PBS News

Changes to the December PBS Schedule

1 December 2012

The Department of Health and Ageing has introduced a new IT system for the PBS to ensure its continued high levels of service into the future.  This has been a task of immense complexity and has been undertaken to replace over forty existing data systems some of which have been in use for nearly twenty years.
The new data management system also permits the PBS to utilise some “behind the scenes” changes that will change slightly the way in which information on PBS medicines is presented.

The most noticeable change is that we will now refer to medicines using the name that they have under the Australian Medicines Terminology (AMT).  The AMT provides medicines with a universal, unambiguous name and behind it a numerical identifier that is also unique.  The importance of this is that as patients take up the opportunity to personally control their health records, information on their medicines will ultimately be the same across all of health.

The new descriptions clearly identify the medicine including the pack size. Because now the name of the drug includes the pack size, the maximum quantity is displayed as the number packs of the medicine. So if a medicine comes in a pack of 20 tablets and has a maximum quantity of “two” that means the maximum quantity is two packs of 20, or 40 tablets.   Maximum quantities have not changed, just the way we describe them.  As this change is unfamiliar we have included the old measure of “maximum quantity” which details the maximum quantity of units. 

 We are also changing the way in which we describe the conditions under which a PBS medicine can be prescribed.  Many medicines on the PBS are available for specific indications. This information has until now been presented as a single block of text rather than as precise, consistent and easily communicated conditions.

To improve patients’ quality use of medicine, health care providers across the world have been striving to ensure that every aspect of a patient’s treatment is described in clear, unambiguous and unique terms.  This collection of medical terms, known as the Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine -- Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT) is the most comprehensive, multilingual clinical healthcare terminology in the world.

SNOMED CT contributes to the improvement of patient care by underpinning the development of Electronic Health Records that record clinical information in ways that enable meaning-based retrieval. This provides effective access to information required for decision support and consistent reporting and analysis. Patients benefit from the use of SNOMED CT because it improves the recording of EHR information and facilitates better communication, leading to improvements in the quality of care.

The way we name medicines and the way we describe conditions may change slightly but it will lead to benefits in personal health management.  The last thing that should be confusing is information about your health.