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19 Mar 2014

Doctors are being urged to encourage their patients to make use of a new smartphone app, which is designed to let patients know about and manage their medicines, as well as record important health information.

The MedicineList+ app has been launched by NPS MedicineWise and operates on both Android and iOS devices.

It aims to help patients keep an up-to-date list of all the medicines they take, give reminders on when to take them, and can even keep track of more than one person’s medicines list, making it useful for parents and people who care for older family members.

NPS MedicineWise clinical adviser Dr Philippa Binns said the free MedicineList+ app would be a great help to anyone who takes medicines, but especially people who take three or more prescriptions, over-the-counter or complementary medicines every day.

“We know that keeping a medicines list is an important part of being medicine wise, but according to our recent survey of people aged 65 years or older or their carers, only 55 per cent of older Australians keep a list of their medicines, while 30 per cent have no way of keeping track of them at all, which is not ideal,” Dr Binns said.

“Of those people who do keep a medicines list, almost all keep track of their prescription medicines, but only 60 per cent list their over-the-counter medicines, and just 55 per cent list their complementary medicines such as herbs, vitamins, and fish oil.

“What’s more, 54 per cent of people who keep a medicines list said they do not update it every time they stop or start a new medicine, and only 48 per cent said they would take their list with them every time they visited a health professional.”

Dr Binns said the new app would make it easier to list all the medicines being taken, keep the list up to date, and have the information on hand when patients see their doctor.

The app can: generate a list of medicines that can be emailed, printed or saved for sharing with family members, carers and doctors; scan the barcode of medicine packaging to enter it straight into the medicines list; create multiple user profiles for managing family members’ medicines; set a reminder for medicine doses or other medical reminders; store measurement and test results, such as blood pressure readings, weight, height etc; add free text and notes including general health reminders such as allergies and emergency contacts.

The development of the MedicineList+ app comes in the wake of news that patient access to services aimed at improving medication use is to be rationed following concerns of a cost blow-out.

The Federal Health Department and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia have agreed to cap services provided through the Home Medicines Review and other medication programs amid fears funding for the service would run out before the current Community Pharmacy Agreement expires in mid-2015.

Under the changes, which came into effect on 1 March, a referral for a Home Medicine Review will expire after three months, and there will be a strict cap on the number of the reviews and MedsCheck services that GPs, pharmacists and other health professionals can commission.

Debra Vermeer

Published: 19 Mar 2014