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Medicines database to provide better health outcomes.

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Media Release

Senator the Hon Kay Patterson Minister for Health and Ageing

May 19 2003

MEDICINES DATABASE TO PROVIDE BETTER HEALTH OUTCOMES A new central database of medicines information will be an important step in achieving better health outcomes for Australians, the Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator the Hon Kay Patterson, said today.

Senator Patterson made the comment when announcing that the Commonwealth Government had approved funding to establish the medicines database, which will be hosted by EAN Australia, a not-for-profit organisation.

The database will underpin the quality use of medicines by enabling the reliable electronic transmission of medicines information between healthcare providers. Access to a trusted central source will ensure that the many electronic health systems being used by doctors, pharmacists and hospitals are referring to the same medicine.

Within the database, each medicine will have its own unique identifying code. This code, when used in medical and pharmacy software, will help to reduce adverse events associated with the inappropriate use of medicines which can occur, for example, when different medicines have similar-sounding names.

"Improving the reliability of the electronic transmission of medicines information in both the hospital and community health settings could save lives and reduce hospitalisations", Senator Patterson said. "This will improve the accuracy of medicines information communicated between the various systems now used. It will help to achieve quality use of medicines for all consumers."

Senator Patterson said her Department would ensure that all information stored in the medicines database would be submitted to a comprehensive quality assurance process to meet stringent standards of accuracy.

The medicines database will be used for the first time during the MediConnect Field Test being held in Launceston and Ballarat. MediConnect will be an electronic health system designed to improve quality and safety in the management of medications by giving participating doctors and pharmacists access to more complete information about the medicines people are using.

Senator Patterson said the implementation of the medicines database represented three years of solid valuable work by members of the Medicines Coding Council of Australia to define the medicines data to be collected.

Further information: Sarah Higginbottom, Senator Patterson's Office 0411 405 341