Prescriptions are written in four out of five GP visits, resulting in an estimated 74 million medications being prescribed last year across Australia.
For many patients, taking daily medication or a course of antibiotics is nothing out of the ordinary. But for thousands across Australia, lives and wellbeing depend on taking the right medication at the right time. And that’s not always easy.
In fact, accidental drug-related deaths now surpass road related fatalities across Australia. And according to the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, in 2011 (the most recent year for which national figures are available), prescription opioids were responsible for about 70 per cent of 617 accidental opioid deaths.
Around one in five Australians experience chronic pain, where opioids are often prescribed. Such prescriptions are increasing too, with the number of opioid prescriptions written each quarter rising from 2.5 million in 2009 to 3.5 million in 2015.
Four in five people taking opioids long term will experience an adverse event, which can result in disability, hospitalisation or even death.
With a large number of accidental drug related deaths resulting from a lack of warnings around mixing medication, improving education is key. But how?
The first step is looking at how we can use technology to increase the education around prescription medication, and reminder systems to improve the correct medication adherence.
The HealthEngine app has released a new feature, Medication Manager, aimed at utilising mobile technology to further enable GPs to provide quality continuity of care to their patients.
CEO and Medical Director of HealthEngine Dr Marcus Tan said it was designed to help patients stay on top of their medication.
Medication Manager reminds patients of when and what dose of medication to take, while also warning patients of potentially harmful drug interactions.
“In creating this product, we wanted to provide support for patients after they leave an appointment with their GP, while also ensuring their GP’s advice was more accurately followed,” Tan said.
“This is the first service which truly combines medication management and interaction with your GP, and we’re excited about its potential to improve the healthcare journey for patients.”
HealthEngine have partnered with ScriptWise, a not-for-profit organisation preventing prescription misuse and overdose fatalities in Australia.
“Technology has a key role to play in helping patients manage their health,” said Bee Mohamed, CEO of ScriptWise.
“Medication Manager has a role to improve medication literacy and prescription adherence which will, in turn, improve a patient’s health outcome.”