Consumer Perspectives of the Australian Home Medicines Review Program: Benefits and Barriers26 May 2014
BACKGROUND: The Australian Home Medicines Review (HMR) is a free consumer service to assist individuals living at home to maximize the benefits of their medicine regimen and prevent medication related problems. It consists of a pharmacist reviewing a person’s medicines and collaborating with the general practitioner to optimize the individual’s medicine management. The uptake of this service has remained below the projected use although the program has been shown to successfully identify medication related problems and improve patient drug knowledge and adherence. OBJECTIVES: This study investigates patients’ perceived benefits and barriers regarding the Home Medicines Review service who have used the service and those who are eligible for it but have never used it. METHODS: The consumer perceptions were drawn from 14 semi-structured focus groups with patients and carers belonging to the general HMR target population and to consumer segments that have been postulated to be underrepresented with regard to this service. RESULTS: The major benefits reported were acquisition of medicine information, reassurance, feeling valued and cared for, and willingness to advocate medication changes to the general practitioner. Perceived barriers were concerns regarding upsetting the general practitioner, pride and independence, confidence issues with an unknown pharmacist, privacy and safety concerns regarding the home visit, and lack of information about the program. Participants agreed that the potential benefits of the service outweighed its potential barriers. CONCLUSIONS: It is expected that direct-to-consumer promotion of HMRs would increase the uptake of this valuable service. It would be necessary to ensure that the process and benefits of the service are communicated clearly and sensitively to eligible patients and their carers to obviate common consumer misconceptions and/or barriers regarding the HMR service. Further, any direct-to-consumer promotion of the service must enable patient/carer self-identification of eligibility.