Quality Use of Medicines (QUM)

This section contains information on the Quality Use of Medicines and related programs.

Page last updated: 05 March 2020

What is Quality Use of Medicines?

Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) is one of the central objectives of Australia’s National Medicines Policy.

QUM means:
  • Selecting management options wisely;
    • considering the place of medicines in treating illness and maintaining health
    • recognising that there may be better ways than medicine to manage many disorders
  • Choosing suitable medicines if a medicine is considered necessary;
    • the individual
    • the clinical condition
    • risks and benefits
    • dosage and length of treatment
    • any co-existing conditions
    • other therapies
    • monitoring considerations
    • costs for the individual, the community and the health system as a whole; and
  • Using medicines safely and effectively.
    • monitoring outcomes
    • minimising misuse, over-use and under-use
    • improving people’s ability to solve problems related to medication, such as negative effects or managing multiple medications.
The definition of QUM applies equally to decisions about medicine use by individuals and decisions that affect the health of the population.

The term ‘medicine’ includes prescription, non-prescription and complementary medicines.

Quality Use of Medicines in Australia

Australia’s National Strategy for Quality Use of Medicines outlines the principles, partners, building blocks and approach for achieving QUM in Australia. The Executive Summary brochure together with the National Strategy are intended to assist the QUM partners in becoming more aware of the QUM policy framework and approach, and enable them to integrate their own activities with the Strategy.

The goal of the National Strategy for QUM is to make the best possible use of medicines to improve health outcomes for all Australians.

This recognises that many people maintain their health without using medicines, while for others, medicines play an important role in maintaining health, preventing illness and curing disease.

Benefits of Quality Use of Medicines

The implementation and evaluation of the National Strategy for QUM will yield substantial benefits in healthcare services and the wider community through better health outcomes, better medicine use, increased national productivity and quality of life. It will be on these end points that the success of the National Strategy will be judged.

The Quality Use of Diagnostics, Therapeutics and Pathology Program

The Quality Use of Diagnostics, Therapeutics and Pathology Program (the Program) is an Australian Government initiative administered by the Department of Health (the department). The Program provides funding to improve the way medicines and medical tests are prescribed and used.

The Program contributes to the implementation of Australia’s National Medicines Policy (NMP) and the National Strategy for Quality Use of Medicines (NSQUM) by fostering cross sector collaboration and partnerships, collecting data, providing information, raising awareness and educating health professionals and consumers about the quality use of medicines and diagnostics.

The objectives of the program are:
  • Improving quality use of therapeutics, diagnostics and pathology for Australian consumers;
  • Improving quality use of therapeutics, diagnostics and pathology for Australian health professionals;
  • Facilitating free access to information to support appropriate use of therapeutics, diagnostics and pathology; and
  • Supporting the effectiveness and efficiency of the health system.
NPS MedicineWise is funded by the government to deliver on the objectives of the program. They are an Independent, not-for-profit organisation that provides evidence based information, support tools and education services to health professionals and consumers to improve the quality use of medicines and diagnostic services in Australia.

A review has recently been undertaken of NPS MedicineWise in regard to the delivery of these government funded activities. A copy of the Public report of the review and the government response are available on the Review: Quality Use of Medicines Program’s Delivery by the National Prescribing Service web page.

Printable Resources

Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) strategy
The National Strategy for Quality Use of Medicines - Executive Summary Brochure
National Medicines Policy Document

If you are having trouble downloading the above documents, please contact the Quality Use of Medicines team for a copy to be emailed to you.