Deprescribing medication for older Australians could save money and improve quality of life

12 Apr 2024

UQ researchers have found that stopping unnecessary medication for Australians in residential aged care facilities could save the health system up to 16 million dollars a year while improving quality of life.

Dr Charles Okafor from the Centre for Health Services Research said the study found older Australians were being prescribed medications that were unnecessary.

“We assessed the costs and benefits of stopping certain medications for frail older adults living in residential care.

“The research is called Opti-Med and it involved carefully reviewing and reducing medications for residents who were not getting any clear benefit from some of the medicine they were prescribed.

“What we found was that deprescribing people from these medications was improving their quality of life since they no longer had to be medicated for certain things, but they also stood to save up to 90 dollars per year,” Dr Okafor said.

State and Federal governments in Australia are spending upwards of 25 billion dollars annually. 

“With around 181,000 people living permanently in residential aged care facilities, up to 16 million dollars could be saved for the health system if implemented across the country, which is a large sum of money,” Dr Okafor said.

“Making sure we provide value for money is essential. Eliminating waste in our systems is critical to ensuring we all benefit from aged care.

Dr Okafor said the research involved more than 300 residents in aged care in New South Wales and Western Australia.

“The study involved seventeen homes and a total of 303 older people between March 2014 and February 2019.”

The research has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.


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