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what is digitalis?

Digitalis is a publisher and developer of digital knowledge systems

Digitalis has been operating as a publisher and developer of digital knowledge systems at the interface of health care, pharmacotherapy and knowledge management for decades. Collaboration and communication within the health care chain are becoming increasingly important. Digitalis subscribes to this by focussing on decision making and decision support. Content streamlining and integration within the health care process (electronic prescribing, pharmacotherapy consultation, formulary management, guideline development) are therefore key elements in all our products and services.

Digitalis sprung from an R&D project at the department of Clinical Pharmacy at Radboud University in Nijmegen at the end of the 1980s. This project gave birth to Prescriptor, the very first Electronic Prescription System (EPS) in the Netherlands. In the early days, the researchers started a collaboration with the department of Family Medicine of the University of Amsterdam, where the International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC) was developed. At the time, the general practitioner systems (HIS) were used exclusively for administrative purposes. With the arrival of Prescriptor, the options of the HIS systems became more medically oriented. In this way, Prescriptor by Digitalis created a visionary bridge between medicine and pharmacy, implementing rational therapy agreements in practice, in a patient- and problem-oriented way.

Since then, Digitalis has sought collaboration with various knowledge partners, including Transmuraal Formularium Nijmegen, Groninger Formularium Commissie, Proeftuin Groningen, and the Dutch College of General Practitioners. With these partners Digitalis developed electronic formularies, which were integrated in EHRs via Prescriptor. At the beginning of the 1990s, Digitalis became a publisher of continuing education and optional modules on the rational use of medications (SOJA, InforMatrix, NEOcasus and VideOpinion). These information services were accompanied by interactive workshops focussing on pharmacotherapeutic consultation groups.

Digitalis' unique combination of facilitating, maintaining, linking and implementing knowledge sources to optimise medication usage, was discovered by a new partner - a large NHS institution in Northern Ireland - at the beginning of this century. As a result, Digitalis is now also stretching its wings internationally, to introduce knowledge products on different platforms. A new offshoot was the development of Clinical Rules, aiming at an innovative and efficient form of medication safety.

For more than 30 years, Digitalis has therefore been a pioneer and specialist in the field of medication management, or what is internationally referred to as 'medicines optimisation’. Medication selection policies, purchasing, therapy policies, prescription, medication guidance, medication monitoring, and medication review are all areas of special attention that need to be attuned more closely in practice. Professionals are able to take control of quality management again, supported by a powerful IT infrastructure and knowledge architecture. This is Digitalis' commitment: hosting YOUR knowledge!

Vision & mission


Digitalis' mission focuses on knowledge management for the optimisation of medication usage. This affects a series of processes that are often set up in isolation in practice. Digitalis is a partner for knowledge networks that aim to improve the effectiveness and safety of medication usage. In practical terms, this concerns the design and support of the knowledge infrastructure around medication selection policies, varying from purchasing, therapy policies, prescription, medication guidance, medication monitoring and medication review. Adequate national standards and guidelines usually exist, but these often lack a conversion, implementation and integration on the shop floor. Converting, collecting, connecting and opening up various knowledge sources is crucial in this respect. The key word is ‘knowledge management’.

Network management is the second tool: setting up, connecting and supporting specific networks. These operate as communities’ in the form of health care groups or health care institutions with core values such as collegiality, cooperation, professionalism and quality. The health care groups and health care providers within institutions feel responsible for working together. Digitalis facilitates the development of processes to optimise medication usage. Because these processes interact, effective application can be achieved more successfully within cooperating networks.

The emergence of the Internet enables these processes to be streamlined even better. This development can be compared, for example, to the evolution of the printed street plan into an electronic navigation system. This evolution is also taking place in health care IT, the latest options reaching even further. Knowledge management is now within the reach of ‘communities’ within the health care system, reaching agreements together, implementing and monitoring them, and adapting them to changing needs. Processes that used to be invented exclusively at the macrolevel, can now be created in a microcontext, to be applied integrally on the shop floor. What is more: these health care groups can also exchange knowledge products that they developed themselves. Based on a solid IT infrastructure and knowledge architecture in the cloud, the options are unlimited.

How this can lead to interesting partnerships, is shown by the cooperation between Digitalis and a large NHS institution in Northern Ireland, the Northern Health and Social Care Trust. This cooperation has acquired great interest internationally, by the EU's recognition of Northern Ireland as ’medicines management reference site’. The Medicines Optimisation Innovation Centre (MOIC) is another organisation in Northern Ireland that collaborates with Digitalis. MOIC and Digitalis share the ambition to display outcomes and spread their collective experiences and tools with other partners across Europe. In the Netherlands, Digitalis has a long and successful history of cooperation with umbrella organisations (NHG, KNMP, LHV, Nictiz, VZVZ), regional networks (Transmuraal Formularium Nijmegen, Stichting StatusScoop), and healthcare institutions (Zuyderland).