Pharmacy ARIA (PhARIA)
The Pharmacy Access/Remoteness Index of Australia (PhARIA) was designed specifically to aid in the equitable distribution of financial assistance to rural and remote pharmacies.
It quantifies the degree of remoteness (both geographic and professional) of pharmacies for the purposes of administering the Rural Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance (RPMA) and other rural pharmacy allowances administered by the Commonwealth Department of Health.
The PhARIA project was undertaken by GISCA, the (then) Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care, and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia. PhARIA continues to be maintained by the Hugo Centre for the Commonwealth Department of Health.
The Hugo Centre provides public access to the PhARIA map service which contains data for the current and most recent financial year.
The map service is interactive, allowing users to zoom in and out, find localities of interest and view various map layers containing other information of interest, such as main roads, postcodes, and PhARIA categories.
Concept of remoteness
The concept of remoteness used in this project draws on previous work undertaken by the Department of Health and Aged Care and GISCA, to create the Accessibility and Remoteness Index for Australia (ARIA), which quantified geographic remoteness based on the road distance people have to travel to reach a range of services.
The Pharmacy ARIA is a composite index, incorporating measurements of geographic remoteness (as represented by ARIA+) with a professional isolation component represented by the road distance to the five (5) closest pharmacies.
The locations of more than 13,000 populated localities were used in the development of this index.
Within the index, spatial rules have been applied to ensure that anomalies do not occur in the treatment of areas closely surrounding urban centres.
These apply a ‘buffer zone’ around a centre so that any location falling within that zone will receive the same index as that centre. This zone consists of a 30km radius around the external boundary of major centres, those greater than 250,000 population, and a 10km radius around the external boundary of remaining population centres with a population of 18,000 or more.
A further refinement was included to ensure that all urban centres with a large number of existing pharmacies were classified as highly accessible. This "8 pharmacy rule" provides that centres with 8 or more pharmacies are reclassified into Category 1 regardless of their location.
Pharmacy ARIA Categories
The index results, ranging from 0 (high accessibility) to 12 (high remoteness), have been divided into a 6 category classification system as follows:
Category Index Accessibility/Remoteness Category 1 0 - 1 Highly Accessible Category 2 >1 - 2 Accessible (Group A) Category 3 >2 - 4 Accessible (Group B) Category 4 >4 - 6 Moderately Accessible Category 5 >6 - 9 Remote Category 6 >9 - 12 Very Remote
The index provides an objective basis for rural and remote payment arrangements as well as being a useful analytical and policy tool which could aid the further analysis of the provision of pharmacy services in remote areas.
Information on Start-up, Succession and Rural Pharmacy Maintenance Allowances can be obtained from the Pharmacy Agreement section of the Medicare Australia Website.