National Medicines Symposium 2021

NPS MedicineWise hosted the 2021 National Medicines Symposium (NMS) virtually on 18 May 2021

NPS MedicineWise held the National Medicines Symposium (NMS) on 18 May 2021 as a virtual event. It was followed by the Choosing Wisely Australia National Meeting held on 19 May 2021.

The NMS program was designed to provide the latest content in the medicines and health environment and was delivered by acclaimed experts.


About NMS 2021

The theme for NMS 2021 was Evaluating quality use of medicines: How do we know if we're making a difference?.

A unique cross-disciplinary event, NMS 2021 brought together the most influential organisations, individuals and decision makers in the health sector to discuss and debate key issues around quality use of medicines and health technologies, and encouraged collective impact with a focus on the needs of the consumer.

Attracting people from all sectors of the health industry, NMS 2021 was a rare opportunity to network, share expertise, ideas and innovations.

NMS 2021 included plenary sessions, lightning talks, panel discussions and e-poster displays. These sessions provided an opportunity for health care professionals working in all fields to present and discuss their work with their peers.


National Medicines Symposium: How do we know if we’re making a difference?

Medicines data needs to be connected across systems and settings, and we need to better use appropriately designed digital platforms to support good decisions about quality use of medicines, delegates at the 2021 National Medicines Symposium (NMS) heard at the event.

Delegates heard how having common agreed goals and targets and identifying relevant indicators that are meaningful to the whole system will ensure we guide actions to improve the use of medicines in Australia. 

Read the media release.

The online event supported online discussion and networking between delegates and the conversation continued on social media with the hashtag #NMS2021.

Read some of the highlights on Twitter.

Thank you to everyone who took part in the symposium. We look forward to further discussions around these key issues.



NMS 2021 took place on Tuesday 18 May 2021 from 9.30am - 4.00pm AEST.

All times listed in the program below are in Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST).

Abstracts for NMS 2021 are available for viewing





Welcome to country

Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council


Conference welcome

MC Jenny Brockie


Official welcome

Dr Andrew Knight, Chair of Board, NPS MedicineWise


Keynote presentation

What does success in quality use of medicines (QUM) look like?

Prof Michael Kidd, Deputy Chief Medical Officer


Panel discussion

Evaluating QUM: where are we now and where do we need to be?

Ms Helen Dowling, Pharmacist Advisor, eHealth & Medication Safety at Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

A/Prof Christopher Freeman, National President, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

Prof Michael Kidd, Deputy Chief Medical Officer

Mr Andrew Matthews, Director, Medicines Safety Program, Australian Digital Health Agency

Dr Diane Watson, Chief Executive, Bureau of Health Information

Ms Leanne Wells, Chief Executive Officer, Consumers Health Forum of Australia



Poster presentation


Keynote presentation

Measuring the impact of complex change programs in healthcare: insights for QUM

Dr Diane Watson, Chief Executive, Bureau of Health Information


Lightning talks

Stream 1: Collaborations with impact

  • Improving antibiotic prescribing for cellulitis: an impactful collaboration between three rural-regional health services - Jaclyn Bishop, Ballarat Health Services & University of Melbourne
  • Improving medicine information on discharge summaries via a pharmacy-medical collaborative process - Anna Nguyen, Eastern Health
  • Supporting safe practices for low-dose methotrexate - Lisa Pulver, Council of Australian Therapeutic Advisory Groups
  • Evaluating Quality Use of Medicines: How do we know if we’re making a difference? - Penelope Bergen, Consumers Health Forum of Australia
  • Perceptions and experiences of health professionals and orthopaedic patients on pain management and opioid use in orthopaedic inpatients - Valarie Sim, SA Pharmacy

Stream 2: Measurement in practice: data and indicators

  • Inaccurate QT interval estimation in people taking antipsychotics: are we contributing to misinformed treatment decisions? - Teodora Andric, University of Queensland
  • Measuring awareness of quality use of medicines among Australian consumers - Leanne Atkins, NPS MedicineWise
  • Utilisation of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) against HIV in Australian general practice - Kendal Chidwick, NPS MedicineWise
  • Challenges of developing indicators of misuse of medicines in real-time prescription monitoring systems - Aine Heaney, NSW Health
  • Measures in practice: evaluating Virtual Clinical Pharmacy Services (VCPS) at rural and remote hospitals - Louis Botha, NSW Health - Western NSW LHD

Stream 3: Evaluating systems based approaches

  • Evaluating the Antimicrobial Stewardship Clinical Care Standard in Australia: Are we making a difference? - Fiona Doukas, Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care
  • Cost benefit analysis of the NPS MedicineWise 2015 'Blood pressure: measure, manage, monitor' program - Dusha Jeyakumaran, NPS MedicineWise
  • Systems-based approaches to opioid deprescribing: an overview of systematic reviews - Aili Langford, The University of Sydney
  • Opioid stewardship in Australian residential aged care facilities: a collaborative approach to quality opioid medication use - Dr Paresh Dawda, Prestantia Health
  • Supporting change in dementia and changed behaviour care - Dr Anna Samecki, NPS MedicineWise

Stream 4: Innovations in Measurement

  • Consumer Feedback on medication use in Residential Aged Care - Important data on how we can manage medication better - Juanita Breen, Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission
  • COVID-19 and hydroxychloroquine prescribing in general practice - Kendal Chidwick, NPS MedicineWise
  • Data science and the quality use of medicines: a tool for large scale understanding, improvement, and assessment - David Liew, Austin Health
  • Evaluating Quality of Antimicrobial Use in Australian Residential Aged Care Facilities using Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Consumer Feedback - Lyn-li Lim, Eastern Health
  • Predicting Recurrent Readmission for Targeted Medication Intervention Using Artificial Intelligence - Christopher McMaster, Austin Health


Keynote presentation

The role of digital health in supporting QUM

A/Prof Melissa Baysari, The University of Sydney




Speed networking



Measurement in practice: Data and indicators

Prof Sallie Pearson, Centre for Big Data Research in Health, The University of New South Wales
Moving the dial: Measuring QUM at scale

Prof Mieke van Driel, Emeritus Professor of General Practice, The University of Queensland
Measuring quality of GP registrar practice: operationalising the ‘Choosing Wisely’ recommendations for GP training

Prof Nigel Stocks, Head Discipline of General Practice, Adelaide University and Chair, NPS MedicineWise, Data Governance Committee
Using MedicineInsight data to improve care in Australian general practice

Samantha McMillan, WA Primary Health Alliance
Medicines review and impacts on that in patient outcomes



Poster presentation

Closing Panel discussion

Consumer perspectives

Ms Judy Gregurke, Director, CHESS Solutions Pty Ltd
Mr John Stubbs, Consumer
Ms Linda Da Costa, Danila Dilba Health Service, Darwin, Northern Territory

Closing address

Adj A/Prof Steve Morris, CEO, NPS MedicineWise


Professor Michael Kidd AM


Professor Michael Kidd AM is Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Principal Medical Advisor with the Australian Government Department of Health, and the foundation Professor of Primary Care Reform at The Australian National University. He is past President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, past President of the World Organization of Family Doctors, and former Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Flinders University. 

Before returning to Australia at the start of the pandemic, he was Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in Primary Care and Family Medicine, and Chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. 

Ms Jenny Brockie - MC

Jenny Brockie is one of Australia’s most respected and experienced journalists, broadcasters and facilitators.

Jenny’s extensive media career began at the ABC and spans television, online, radio and print. She has won a swag of media awards including the coveted Gold Walkley, two AFI Awards, a Logie, a Human Rights Award and three other Walkley Awards. She was the host of SBS’s Insight program for 19 years, and received 8 United Nations Association of Australia Media Peace Awards for her work on the program.


Jenny has hosted important national and international discussions with renowned thought-leaders to explore, challenge and provoke current and future thinking on subjects as diverse as agriculture and the future of food, education standards, security, health, the arts and culture.

She has also interviewed many prominent local and international figures including former Australian Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove and former Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Associate Professor Melissa Baysari


Associate Professor Melissa Baysari is a human factors researcher experienced in both quantitative and qualitative evaluations of digital health. Her research focuses primarily on digital health to support safe and efficient medication management, with a particular focus on the design and evaluation of computerised decision support.

Melissa has published widely in the areas of medication safety, electronic prescribing and decision support systems, and her research has had a significant impact on policy and practice, including a number of changes being made to clinical information systems and processes.

Ms Linda Da Costa

Linda is a proud Murrumburr woman whose family’s country is located in the heart of Kakadu National Park.

Linda previously worked in the environmental research and monitoring field for 20 years. Caring for country is a passion of Linda’s, as is the protection of the cultural and natural heritage values for which Kakadu is world heritage listed.

Linda joined Danila Dilba Health Service, Darwin’s only Aboriginal community-controlled health service, in 2017 and her work supports Danila Dilba’s vision: A society in which the health, well-being and quality of life of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is equal to that of non-Indigenous Australians.

Linda is a passionate advocate for Aboriginal peoples and their cultures and aspirations, including raising awareness of historical events and how this has influenced the current life experiences of many Aboriginal people. There is an intrinsic link between Aboriginal people and their traditional lands and Linda’s life work has been dedicated to caring for both.


Mrs Helen Dowling


Mrs Dowling is a Registered Pharmacist and has expertise in hospital pharmacy; practitioner and pharmacy premises regulation; medication safety; eHealth and digital systems; health-related policy and standards development; quality improvement and change management; and corporate leadership and management.

Mrs Dowling is a Fellow of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA), held the position of SHPA President from 1999 to 2002, and was awarded the SHPA Medal of Merit in 2005.

Mrs Dowling is currently engaged as a Senior Project Officer at the Australian Commission on Safety & Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) since 2015. From 2016 to 2017 Mrs Dowling was employed as a Project Manager for 12 months to lead the Pharmacy Services Redesign at Royal North Shore Hospital.

Mrs Dowling previously held the position of Chief Executive Officer for SHPA from 2012 to 2015 and also held the position of Director of Pharmacy Services for Hunter New England (HNE) Local Health Network, from 2008 to 2012.

Ms Dowling is an ACHS accreditation assessor (since 2008) and has conducted numerous assessment surveys, the majority of which have been in public hospitals.

Mrs Dowling has held numerous additional committee/advisory appointments during her career and from 2010 to 2015, Mrs Dowling was inaugural President of the Pharmacy Council of NSW leading the transformation from the previous Pharmacy Board of NSW with the introduction of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for health practitioners.

Emeritus Professor Mieke van Driel

Mieke is a General Practitioner and experienced primary care researcher with an extensive track record in the generation, translation, and implementation of research in general practice. This includes conducting clinical trials and trials of complex behaviour change interventions, such as guideline implementation. Her research on judicious use of antibiotics has contributed to a better understanding of the complex primary care environment and has provided evidence to support effective interventions to change clinician prescribing behaviour. 


Since its inception in 2009, she has been involved in the Registrars Clinical Encounters in Training (ReCEnT) study, following the clinical experiences and learnings of Australian GP registrars. She shares her expertise on rational prescribing on various committees and panels, such as the NPS MedicineWise Clinical Intervention Advisory Group and the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce.

In 2021 Mieke retired from her academic roles at the University of Queensland, where she has led the primary care team in the Faculty of Medicine since 2011. She continues to work as a general practitioner in an Aboriginal Medical Service and in remote communities.

Associate Professor Chris Freeman


Associate Professor Chris Freeman is the National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. He is an established leader with a strong track record in the primary care sector. He currently works as a Consultant Pharmacist at a medical centre in Brisbane’s south and as a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Queensland.

A/Prof Freeman graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy from James Cook University and has gone onto complete a Graduate Diploma in Clinical Pharmacy and a PhD from the University of Queensland.

A/Prof Freeman major research themes relate to developing the evidence to support collaborative care models, reducing harm from inappropriate medication use, and tailoring therapy through personalised medicine.

In 2012, A/Prof Freeman became the first Australian pharmacist to obtain specialisation in ambulatory care pharmacy under the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (USA) and in 2015 was a part of the initial cohort credentialed as Advanced Practice Pharmacists.

A/Prof Freeman was awarded the Australian Young Pharmacist of the Year in 2011 and the Australian Consultant Pharmacist of the Year in 2014 for his contribution to the advancement of patient care and to the pharmacy profession.

A/Prof Freeman has served on the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s Board since 2015, appointed as National President and Board Chair in 2018. He was appointed to the Board of the Brisbane South PHN in 2020.

Ms Judy Gregurke

Judy is a management consultant and consumer advocate with extensive leadership experience in health, community, disability and aged care sector management roles. She has a demonstrated passion for empowering and supporting people and representing the views and concerns of service users, consumers and community members.

Judy is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is a member of the NPS MedicineWise Board. She is also a Consumer Advisor with the Australian Digital Health Agency, promoting health literacy and decision-making capacity for consumers, and is a volunteer consumer member of Services Australia’s Aged Care Taskforce.


Dr Andrew Knight


Andrew has been a director of NPS MedicineWise since the 3rd of August 2010 and Chair of Board since 1 July 2019.

He is a staff specialist general practitioner and Director of the South Western Sydney Local Health District Primary and Integrated Care Unit.

Andrew holds academic appointments at the University of NSW and Western Sydney University. He was previously a Director of Training in the Australian General Practice Training Program. He has had extensive experience in quality improvement for general practice through the Australian Primary Care Collaboratives Program. He is the former chair of the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network.

He is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a member of the NPS MedicineWise Board Governance and Nomination Committee.

Mr Andrew Matthews

Andrew Matthews is responsible for the Agency’s delivery of the Medicines Safety strategic priority in the National Digital Health Strategy’s 'Framework for Action'. Electronic prescribing and the implementation of electronic prescriptions that has been occurring throughout 2020 and 2021, is a priority action under this strategy.

Andrew has been both a hospital and community pharmacist and worked in Adelaide, Canberra, and Wagga Wagga. His previous employment has included successful delivery of health & pharmacy programs and projects across organisations such as the Pharmacy Guild, the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia and the Australian Pharmacy Council.


Samantha McMillan

Sam-Mc Milan

Samantha McMillan is the Manager, Primary Care Transformations at WA Primary Health Alliance. She has extensive experience across the health sector. Since moving to Western Australia has held roles in Digital Health involving the My Health Record roll out and more recently in supporting high performing General Practices across Western Australia.

Adj A/Prof Steve Morris

Steve has worked in numerous clinical and leadership roles in the health sector, spanning pharmacy practice, community and hospitals, primary care, industry and NGOs. 

Before joining NPS MedicineWise, Steve was accountable for the delivery of statewide pharmacy services to the public sector in South Australia, holding dual roles as Executive Director SA Pharmacy, and Chief Pharmacist for SA Health. Originally from the UK, Steve was deputy chief executive of the National Prescribing Centre. 


He is passionate about quality use of medicines and the implementation of evidence-based practice, including the use of data and electronic health systems to support best health outcomes for people. Steve holds an MBA and MSc in Health.

Prof Sallie Pearson


Sallie is a health service researcher, pharmacoepidemiologist and behavioural scientist. She is the Director of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Medicines Intelligence and heads the Medicines Policy Research Unit, Centre for Big Data Research in Health at UNSW. Sallie is a leading authority in the conduct of population-based research using routinely collected health data, in particular research examining the use and impact of prescribed medicines in routine clinical care. 

Prof Nigel Stocks

Prof Stocks is Head of the Discipline of General Practice at the University of Adelaide. He is a general practitioner (FRACGP) and public health physician (FAFPHM). He is an experienced primary health care researcher who has conducted both qualitative and quantitative studies including RCT’s, cohort and observational studies, systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

His main interests are chronic disease epidemiology and management in general practice, infectious disease surveillance, prevention and quality of life with an emphasis on clinical and health services research. 


He has successfully recruited patients to large (ASPREE and WISDOM) and many smaller randomised controlled trials. His research team has experience in utilising large data sets and have published widely using the largest and most comprehensive set of GP morbidity data (3.5 million patients) – MedicineInsight – in Australia. For several years he was the RACGP SA/NT Faculty Chair, a member and Chair of their national Council and member of their research committee. He now supports the College as Chair of their National Awards Committee and member of their Research Foundation.

Mr John Stubbs


John is a committed and passionate advocate for people affected by cancer and chronic disease. He has held positions on a range of consumer groups at both State and Federal level and is a regular speaker at medical conferences in Australia and internationally about health policy, advocacy and the benefits of consumer engagement.

John is a Board Member of the Cancer Institute NSW, the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District and a committee member for the Therapeutic Goods Administration - Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling, various Medical Benefits Scheme Review committees and on the Consumer Advisory Committee and Grant Review Panels for the NHMRC.

He was awarded an Honorary Associate of the University of Sydney – School of Medicine in 2009 for his work in promoting Research and Clinical Trials in Australia and a Recognition Award from the Federal Department of Health in 2011 for ongoing commitment to improving Radiation Therapy Services in this country

Dr Diane Watson

Dr Diane Watson is the Chief Executive of the Bureau of Health Information (BHI), a board-governed organisation that publishes independent reports and information about the performance of the New South Wales (NSW) healthcare system. She has led the establishment of three reporting agencies in Australia that use big data to drive decisions on healthcare provision nationally and locally.

Prior to joining BHI, Dr Watson was the inaugural CEO of the Victorian Agency for Health Information. Dr Watson has held senior management positions for almost 20 years measuring, monitoring and reporting on the performance of healthcare systems to drive improvements in health, care and productivity.


Ms Leanne Wells


Leanne has held executive positions in federal government and non-government organisations.  Leanne is the Chief Executive Officer of the Consumers Health Forum of Australia and previously served as CEO of national peak and local service delivery organisations in the primary care sector.

She is a health advocate and service executive with over thirty years’ experience in health and social policy, program and service development.  Leanne has broad governance experience and is currently Board Director of Coordinare (South East New South Wales’ Primary Health Network), the Ozhelp Foundation, and the Australian Pharmacy Council, Independent Chair of Coordinare’s Community Advisory Committee and Chair of the ACSQHC’s Patient Advisory Group.  

She has several advisory appointments including the Commonwealth’s Primary Health Care Advisory Group, the National Preventative Strategy Advisory Committee and the OECD PaRIS Patient Advisory Panel. Leanne has tertiary qualifications in communications and business. She is a member of both the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Australian Institute of Management.



Contact the NMS secretariat.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 07 3848 2100

Post: Expert Events, PO Box 351, Hamilton Central QLD 4007 Australia.