Both quantification methods use “standards” of good prescribing. The morbidity method specifically defines average quantities of drugs required per standard treatment, for each health problem. The consumption method does so implicitly, by basing the quantification on the consumption patterns of “standard” facilities where prescribing is considered to be acceptable.
It is therefore important to ensure that prescribers in the facilities covered by the quantification process base their prescribing on the average standard treatments that have been used to quantify requirements. Otherwise, the drugs supplied will be based on rational standards while prescribing will continue much as before, and shortages and surpluses will continue to occur.
A number of methods may be used to improve prescribing and stock management:
(a) Dissemination of the average standard treatment schedules used for quantifying requirements (if the morbidity method is used). The schedules should be accompanied by a short clear explanation of the basic concept of standard treatment schedules. (These are explained in Module 5). This material should be distributed to prescribers in all the facilities covered by the quantification process.
(b) Dissemination of clinical drug treatment schedules. As will be explained in more detail in Module 5, the standard treatment schedules used for quantification purposes give only the average quantities of each drug required for a standard course of treatment of each health problem. They do not indicate what should be given to individual patients. In other words, they are not clinical treatment schedules. However, once quantification schedules have been established, clinical schedules can progressively be developed from them, and distributed to prescribers in the form of therapy notes, building up to a therapy manual.
(c) Wall charts are also a good vehicle for summarizing drug treatment schedules. They are a valuable support to information provided in manuals, for they can be consulted at a glance, and ensure that all health workers are constantly reminded of the treatment standards to apply.
(d) The above three written aids should be supported by training seminars, particularly for primary health care workers, but also for doctors, to explain how the standard treatments have been developed and updated, and why the guidelines should be followed.
(e) Therapeutic consensus groups may also be useful. These are groups where experts present and discuss standard treatment guidelines with prescribers, in order to arrive at an agreed treatment policy.
(f) Monitoring of prescribing patterns is another important support activity in improving prescribing. Supervising medical staff should check, during their supportive visits of inspection, whether the recommended drug treatment schedules are being observed, and find out the reasons for any important deviations.
(g) Training in the basic principles of stock management. It is important to keep simple stock records and to observe proper storage and security rules, e.g. the “first in first out” rule.