Helping carers keep track of medicines – The MedicineWise App

See the NPS MedicineWise website for more information on the MedicineWise app.

Author: Katherine Burchfield: CEO of NPS MedicineWise

Although more than 1 in 10 Australians are carers, many do not think of themselves in this way. They may be just helping an elderly aunt with the shopping or looking after a child with a disability. Helping a loved one keep track of their medicines is an important part of being medicinewise and is something that many carers do. Being medicinewise is all about getting the most out of medicines and is important for all people who take medicines or care for those who do.


Many of us are carers

A carer is someone who provides unpaid care and support to family members and friends who have a disability, a mental, chronic or terminal illness, an alcohol or other drug issue or who are frail or aged. A carer may help with daily activities like dressing, feeding, showering and providing transport, as well as managing someone’s medicines.

Carers Australia shines a light on just how many people are carers in Australia, who they are and what they do. There are over 2.65 million carers in Australia and around 861,000 primary carers who provide the most informal support to a family member or friend. Seven out of ten are women, and although the average age of a carer is 54, around 1 in 11 carers are under the age of 25.

Managing medicines for someone is an important role of a carer. It is not always so easy as the people they are caring for may have several health conditions and may be taking a lot of different medicines. This is why the Department of Communities and Justice supported NPS MedicineWise to enhance the MedicineWise app to better support carers managing medicines.


Enhancing the MedicineWise app for carers

The MedicineWise app is a free medication and health management app funded by the Australian Government Department of Health. The app helps people and their carers keep track of medicines, it gives reminders when it is time to take a medicine and provides up-to-date and relevant health information. It also helps people store health and medicine information in one place, which is valuable when visiting health professionals and could be especially important if needed during an emergency.

As a carer, a person can create profiles for people they care for under their own account in the MedicineWise app. This allows the carer to access all the information in the app for the people they care for.


Information notifications and carers

The MedicineWise app regularly sends out relevant and timely news and information about particular medicines and health conditions. People who identify themselves as a carer in the MedicineWise app can receive important news and information relevant to carers. For example, during Carer’s Week this year, information was sent to carers about support available, including the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), financial support options and respite for carers.


Helping carers supports quality use of medicines for all Australians

Older Australians, often being cared for by friends or family, typically take more medicines. Two thirds of Australians aged 75 and older, take five or more medicines every day.

Compared to those using fewer medicines, older Australians who take five or more medicines a day are twice as likely to report a side effect or other medicine problem. They are also seven times more likely to be taking medicines that could interact.

The MedicineWise app is an example of how new mobile technologies are enabling smarter, more personalised healthcare, supporting the quality use of medicines for all Australians who take medicines or those who care for someone who does. While some people may not be as digitally savvy or confident using an app as others, they can still benefit from the MedicineWise app through their carer. The app, suited to carers, can help the carer keep track of often complex medicine regimens.

By having available accurate and up-to-date information about the medicines a person is taking, unintended medicine interactions and incorrect dosing may become less likely. The MedicineWise app is one of the ways we are helping Australians to get the most out of their medicines, safely.