Managing medicines

Having trouble keeping track of your medications? Find out what you’re taking – and why – with the help of two government-funded programs.

Words: Mel Hearse

Of the 140,000 Australians admitted to hospital every year with medication-related problems, studies have shown that an estimated 50 percent could be avoided1. So, what’s being done to find a solution?

Two initiatives, the Home Medicines Review (HMR) and MedsCheck, offer free, private consultations with pharmacists to enable individuals who are at risk to discuss medications and how best to manage them. The Australian Government funds both schemes under the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement between the Department of Health and Ageing and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia – which means neither program will cost users a cent.

Home Medicines Review (HMR)

“HMR services provide a comprehensive review of your medicines to identify any drug-related issues and ensure you receive the optimal benefit from them,” explains Toni Riley of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

“HMR is targeted at consumers identified by their GP as having a clinical need for the program or, in layman’s terms, those deemed at risk of experiencing medication misadventure.”

As well as detecting and addressing medication-related problems, the HMR helps improve knowledge of your medicines and gives practical, personalised advice on how best to manage them.

Reviews are conducted in your own home and require a referral from your GP.

MedsCheck and Diabetes MedsCheck

MedsCheck and Diabetes MedsCheck provide an in-pharmacy review of your medicines, including educational and self-management advice.

MedsCheck is targeted at individuals taking five or more prescription medicines and those who have had a recent significant medical event, such as hospitalisation or a new diagnosis, explains Riley.

Diabetes MedsCheck focuses on type 2 diabetes medicines management, monitoring devices and education. “It is targeted at those with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes and who are unable to gain timely access to other diabetes education or health services in their community,” says Riley.

As with HMR, both MedsCheck programs aim to identify problems with medicines and help people learn more about their medicines – including how medicines affect medical conditions. Neither MedsCheck service requires a referral from a doctor.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for MedsCheck, you must:

  • be a Medicare and/or Department of Veteran’s Affairs cardholder;
  • have not received a MedsCheck, Diabetes MedsCheck, Home Medicines Review (HMR) or Residential Medication Management Review (RMMR) in the past 12 months;
  • be living at home;
  • be taking five or more prescription medicines; and
  • have had a recent significant medical event.

To be eligible for a Diabetes MedsCheck, you must meet the above criteria (except for the last two points), plus:

  • have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the previous 12 months; or
  • have less than ideally controlled type 2 diabetes and be unable to gain timely access to existing diabetes education/health services in your community.
Find out more

Ask your pharmacist or GP about these services, or for more information, visit 5cpa.com.au

References:

  1. ABC Health & Wellbeing, www.abc.net.au/health/minutes/stories/2011/05/17/3122211.htm#.UI8HSYUn0io
Information provided in this article is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.