On-road healthcare hassle a bitter pill to swallow

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Grey nomad medicine
A recent study shows that some medicines are difficult to access

It will come as no surprise to the many grey nomads travelling with a variety of health conditions, but a new study has concluded that, out on the open road, they are facing issues of healthcare dislocation and fragmentation of care.

Researchers from the University of Wollongong’s School of Nursing surveyed 33 individuals, conducting detailed interviews with eight who were aged between 62 and 69 years. The participants had chronic health conditions but had travelled extensively in recent months.

The report found that the challenges facing travellers included finding health services; a lack of shared medical records; and difficulties accessing regular medications.

“Participants faced challenges when negotiating health services while travelling, most of which are systems related,” concluded the researchers. “It was evident that grey nomads with chronic conditions face several challenges related to continuity of care both at an individual service provider level and at a more broadly based infrastructure level.”

One such challenge was the difficulty of either getting medications prescribed or getting the scripts filled at pharmacies. The Australian Journal of Pharmacy reports pharmacies in some rural and remote areas were reported to have limited or no stock of some medications.

The publication reports that one respondent said: “In some of these small towns … they don’t carry refrigerated products … I had to go another 120 kilometres to get the Byetta I needed.”

Another had a similar experience: “They had to order medications in so that meant we were stuck there for another three or four days.”

Additionally, prescriptions written interstate represented a challenge, with one interviewee saying: “We were in Mitchell in Queensland, and I was on a course of Clexane … and I’d run out. I took the prescription to the pharmacy, but they wouldn’t fill it because it was … a New South Wales doctor that had done it and so they couldn’t verify.”

The report’s authors recognised that, with the grey nomad lifestyle continuing to grow rapidly in popularity, health services needed to understand the experience of those living with chronic disease on the road in order to meet that group’s needs.

“The fragmentation and lack of continuity of care experienced by participants highlight systems issues that provide opportunities to improve the health care of grey nomads,” they said. “The desire expressed by participants to assume responsibility and enhance self-management of their conditions demonstrates an opportunity to enhance healthful ageing through support services and healthcare planning provision by healthcare clinicians working in partnership with grey nomads.”

The report suggests that a start would be for rural and remote health services to provide guidance to travellers about service access and availability within their region to facilitate this planning.

  • Have you faced a struggle filling scripts on the road? Comment below.

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7 Responses to On-road healthcare hassle a bitter pill to swallow

  1. As a Grey Nomad when I get a script I ask the Doctor to put “Regulation 24” on the prescription. This allows you to get the original script plus the up to 5 repeats in one visit. Saves running out or not being able to fill the prescription due to a smaller pharmacy not carrying them.

    • That’s very interesting to know…thanks for the tip, I have trouble getting Pravachol 80. As it is quite a high dose and not carried by most remote pharmacies, I have to ring ahead. Thanks again

    • Yes you need a Regulation 24 and I can get 10 Webster packs ….then I pre arrange with my GP and pharmacy to send next 10 weeks and another Reg 25 .
      My pharmacist posts the Webster packs to me in a registered post cardboard box pays any supplements …just unable to get fridge probiotics .

      • Whoops that Regulation 24 and “ plus “ any supplements

  2. My husband and I have been travelling all around the country for 18 months. He is 70 and has serious health conditions that can deteriorate fast if not kept in check with good management. We haven’t had any problems at all seeing a GP, getting prescriptions written and a pharmacy to fill them. We have been in quite remote areas and I have found the key is about forward planning. Before we leave a place I am checking the next stop for available doctors, where the nearest hospital is and phoning pharmacies in the area we are going to for medication availability. So far we haven’t run out of any of his medication. Our medical records are on My Health Record, which isn’t accessed by all GPS. I also carry a CD with the medical records on it and if they can’t open that I have hard copies written of all the key issues. My husband told me he doesn’t just want to sit around and wait to die so we are travelling successfully and enjoying it.

  3. I get all my prescriptions filled before we head off.

    It can be done.

    A letter from my G.P. citing extenuating circumstances works well.

    I usually say we are travelling to remote areas.

    I am on cancer (Multiple Myeloma) medication and it is like pulling teeth to convince Celgene who are the distributor of my Revlimid tablets to come to the party, but I have ended up winning the argument each time, thank goodness.

  4. As above if you are getting low after asking your doctor for a S@$ or an R@$ which is the maximum amount they can give out you can also ring or email you a script and this works well to
    Good Luck

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