Complex medicine schedules make it hard to take medicines correctly

It’s hard to remember and correctly take medicines with doses that change from day to day, or that only need to be taken infrequently. NPS MedicineWise has identified this as an important reason why people may not be getting the most out of their medicines. It’s also why MedicineWise app - a free app funded by the Department of Health to help people keep track of their medicines – was recently upgraded to include a new ‘dose-tracker’ functionality.

The findings came from interviews with people who have particular rheumatological conditions that often require complex medicine schedules such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. However, this can be an issue for anyone taking multiple medicines.

“Using a steroid to treat a rheumatoid arthritis flare can be an example of a complex medicine schedule,” says Dr Caroline West, GP and medical advisor at NPS MedicineWise.

“A person may begin on a higher dose that then reduces over a period of days. Sometimes keeping track of all those changes can be very challenging.

“Other examples of complex medicine schedules include using warfarin to reduce the risk of a clot or using insulin in the management of diabetes.

“Without a reminder it can be difficult to remember when and how much medicine to take on a particular day,” she says.

The MedicineWise app is the only app on the Australian market that enables people who take medicines and their carers to keep track of complex medicine schedules including the stepping up and stepping down of medicines.

Medicine-related problems in Australia cause around 250,000 hospital admissions and 400,000 emergency department visits every year, costing approx. $1.4 billion. Most of this harm is potentially preventable.

“The MedicineWise app is an example of how new technologies are enabling smarter, more personalised healthcare and supporting the safe and appropriate use of medicines,” says Katherine Burchfield, CEO of NPS MedicineWise.

“By having available accurate and up-to-date information about a person’s medicines, unintended medicine interactions and adverse events as well as incorrect dosing are less likely.

“Continual development of the MedicineWise app is one of the ways we are helping people to get the most out of their medicines, safely, and improve their health outcomes,” she says.

See the NPS MedicineWise website for more information on the MedicineWise app and the new ‘dose-tracker’ functionality which supports keeping track of complex medicine schedules.


Media contact

Bernadette Withers and Matthew Harris, NPS MedicineWise Media & PR adviser: (02) 8217 8623, 0419 618 365 or [email protected]