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Background and purpose

This combined mobile app and website aim to support healthcare professionals, patients and carers to make shared decisions about medicines, based on the Scottish Government's Polypharmacy Guidance: Realistic Prescribing, 3rd edition. 

The care of patients with multi-morbidities (multiple medical conditions) is one of the greatest challenges now faced by the health service, as it can create overly complex health care for some of the most vulnerable in society. The vast majority of medical research, guidelines and contractual agreements has traditionally focussed on single targets for single disease states, whereas in reality most patients have multiple conditions, requiring multiple treatments.  The resulting polypharmacy (use of multiple medicines) can be appropriate or inappropriate and can potentially result in risks that outweigh the benefits of individual medicines.

By making the Polypharmacy Guidance available through  this combined app and website to both professionals and patients, the aim is to help healthcare professionals to work in partnership with patients to make shared decisions that will ensure their medicines are safe and appropriate and support what matters most to them in their lives.

This resource outlines a 7-Steps process which provides a clear structure for both the initiation of new treatments,  and the review of existing treatments. Throughout the 7 Steps there is a central emphasis on ‘what matters to the patient’? as a key driving force for decisions. The resource also provides patients and healthcare professionals with summary information about “numbers needed to treat (“NNT”) for various medicines. The NNT is the average number of patients who need to be treated to prevent one additional bad outcome. This information may provide a starting point for the conversation between professional and patient about the likelihood of benefit from different medicines, and in some cases the potential for other approaches such as self-management. 

This resource has been developed by Scottish Government Effective Prescribing and Therapeutics Division,  in collaboration with the Digital Health and Care Division and Digital Health and Care Institute, supported by the Polypharmacy Guidance Review Group and patient representatives.  We are keen to gather your feedback and suggestions on how we can improve this resource for the future.


Scottish Government provides this app and website to benefit health and social care organisations across Scotland.  Each individual participating organisation which contributes resources to the app/website has sole responsibility for the information created or published by them. Any information appearing on this site is issued as general information and does not constitute a warranty by  the Scottish Government or any other  organisation, nor should it be taken as advice. No responsibility can be accepted by the Scottish Government or any other organisation for action or inaction as a result of information contained on this app/website. Users should take advice from health and care professionals in respect of specific situations. The use and access of pages of this app/website is subject to the terms and conditions set out below and by this disclaimer. By using or accessing this app/website, you agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.


Content on this app/website is copyrighted to Scottish Government and its agents unless otherwise stated. Users should consult the copyright statements on the resources signposted by this site.

Links to other Websites and applications

The provision on this app/website of a link to another website or application does not constitute any authorisation to access material held at that location. Links to sites are provided for informational purposes only and no responsibility is accepted for the quality of resources to be found on such websites. The contents and material made available on linked sites are completely outwith our control and as such no liability is accepted for any damages resulting from accessing or failing to access these sites. No endorsement is expressed or implied by the presence of a link on this app/website. The contents of a linked-to website may change without our knowledge and as a result, links may break or may terminate on pages which were not the original targets of a link. No responsibility or liability for the privacy of personal information is accepted for linked to websites, as these are beyond our control.


The resources contained on this app/website, including all files that are authorised for public and password-protected download or access, are provided on an “as is” basis and without any warranties. No warranty is given that files downloaded or accessed from this app/website are free of computer viruses. No warranties are made as to fitness for purpose, quality or completeness of information. This app/website excludes any liability for any errors in or omissions in information provided on or linked to from the app/website.

Reliability of information

The Scottish Government uses its best efforts to ensure the accuracy and reliability of information on this app/website in accordance with the policies defined for the app/website . However, no guarantees are made that the information contained on this app/website or associated, or linked to websites is accurate, complete and current at any given time. Information presented on this app/website or associated sites may be changed at any time. The resources made available on this app/website are intended to assist  health and social care professionals in Scotland and are for information only. The app/website are not intended in any way to replace the advice of health and care professionals. Nothing on this app/website is intended to constitute advice. Specific advice should be sought in specific situations from a properly qualified health or care professional. Content on this app/website is governed by a number of policies and guidelines. Users of this app/website agree to inform the web team if they should come across any material contained which they consider to be potentially in breach of any of the published  Scottish Government or NHS Scotland policies or of any relevant legislation in order for the appropriate remedial action to be taken.

Availability of the app and website

Although this app and website have been tested and should work correctly under normal circumstances, there are many factors both within and outside of the control of this site which may prevent them from being available to users of the world-wide-web. No responsibility is accepted by this app or website for any losses that may arise from an inability to access resources. Where a user finds a specific error in the coding of a web page, or where he/she considers a page to be in breach of accessibility or other published policies of this app/website, it is a condition of use of this site that the web team be notified in order that appropriate action may be taken.

Governing laws

The terms and conditions of use of this app and website shall be governed by the laws of Scotland.


The app is compliant with Android and Apple accessibility standards for native mobile apps. The website is compliant with WC3A 2.0 Standards

Browser and operating system compatibility

The app is supported by Android 4.4 or later and iOS 8.0 or later devices. The website is optimised for use on both desktop and mobile devices in the following browsers - IE9+, Chrome, Edge, Safari.