An app can help you stay on track with your medications, but how do you choose the right app? Our reviews of smartphone medication apps can help you choose the best options for your needs.
It goes without saying that your medication can’t work if you don’t take it. And your health can suffer if you don’t take your medications as prescribed. Keeping an accurate list of your medications, and remembering to take them at the right time, are two important ways to better manage your health care. But, these tasks can be hard to accomplish.
Luckily, there are many tools to help you keep track of medications and to remind you to take them as directed. Although you could use your smartphone to keep a list of medications as well as to set multiple alarms, it might be easier to use a smartphone medication app.
The problem is, which one? There are literally hundreds of apps relating to medication, so choosing a good one can be overwhelming and time consuming.
Let me help.
Medication management apps allow you to keep detailed lists of your medications by entering the name and dosage for each medication taken. Reminders for each medication can be set to follow the prescribed frequency and timing.
When it’s time for a medication, an alert is sent to the device. After taking the medication, the patient (or caregiver) can then enter a medication as “taken” on the app, giving you a visual reminder that a medication has been taken as well as a running report regarding compliance.
Obviously, these apps only work if you have your device with you, with the volume load enough for you to hear. Therefore, it is likely these apps will work best on your phone, which is easier to keep with you at all times, in contrast to a larger tablet. Additionally, if you use a tablet, check your settings to be sure you will hear the alerts when the case is closed.
I have reviewed many apps and narrowed it down to a few that I think are well designed – useful and pretty easy to use. Of course, the choice is personal depending on your needs and tastes. We’d love to hear from you – please leave a reply below to share your experience using medication apps with the community.
Researchers found that almost 80% of health apps share your information with third party vendors. These 3rd (and 4th) party vendors use the data for analytics and advertising, but they also can access your personal information. So beware!
This is the first of two posts reviewing healthcare apps. Click here to see more reviews.
Below is a short summary of key features of two apps I tested for this post – continue reading for detailed reviews.
Medisafe Pill Reminder and Medication Tracker
This app by MediSafe Inc. is a popular, highly-rated available for iOS and Android devices. The free version is suitable for most users. In addition to reminding you to take your meds, this app has many tools that helps you keep track of many facets of your health. However, I thought the user interface needs improvement.
Pros of Medisafe:
- What sets this app apart from the others is the ability to connect patients and loved ones through Cloud synchronization. Patients can invite “Medfriends” to connect to their profile – alerts will be sent to your “Medfriends” when medications are taken (or missed).
- For each medication you can include the prescribing doctor and food instructions.
- There is a tool that allows you to check for potentially harmful drug interactions among the list of your medications, as well as warnings about things to avoid while on a particular medication (e.g. alcohol).
- The app provides is information, including some videos, on each medication you enter. Look in the “Updates” section.
- The app can remind you when a prescription needs to be refilled.
- It’s easy to send Weekly Adherence Reports and medication lists by email to yourself or to anyone you choose.
- You can import medication lists from RiteAid, Walgreens and CVS, as well as from hospitals, doctor offices, labs and clinics.
- The app is easy to use for multiple patients, each with their own medications, reminders, reports, etc.
- You can login (find the login instructions under the FAQ) which allows you to share your data between more than one device.
- There is a diary where you can keep notes on 5 topics – allergy, emergency, general, side effects and mood.
- You can add reminders for doctor (and any other kind) appointments.
- A Measurement tracker helps you track any of numerous characteristics, such as weight, blood pressure, pain level, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc.
- You can keep a list of your doctors, with contact information, on the app.
- It is HIPAA compliant, allowing users to feel safe using the app.
- There is a extensive FAQ section (find it under “Updates” on the bottom of the greeting message). You can find helpful answers to many questions regarding how to use the app.
Cons of Medisafe:
- When I first started, I did not find this app easy to use. However, after using it for a while, it is easier to use.
- When it’s time to take a medication, a “banner” alert appears on your phone, with the tone set by you under the “Reminder Alerts” in “Sounds & Haptics” (note – this will be the same audio alert you hear for other reminders). Therefore there is no way to use a distinct tone just for your medication alerts. This could be troublesome if you want to have a louder, longer tone for medications but don’t want to hear this for your other reminders.
- The medication alert banner does not tell you which medicine you need to take. Unfortunately, you must go to the app to see which medication is due.
- There is no way to set up customized “snooze” options. However, the app sends you 3 alerts (at your preset time, after 10 minutes and 20 minutes) if you haven’t marked the medication as “taken” on the app.
- Entering the information for each medication was a bit time consuming and cumbersome. There is a lot of scrolling required to get to the correct medication name and dosage.
- The drop down menu with medication names used to enter each medication doesn’t have every configuration or type of medication listed. This is not only frustrating, but the app doesn’t allow you to check for interactions for medications that you did not enter via the scroll down list.
This app, by Sergio Licea of Aida Organizer, is only available for iOS devices. The free version is fine if you only take 2 medications at 2 times of each day. The app has far less tools than MediSafe, but it is very easy to use with a lot of flexibility. You can choose from a wide variety of reminder tones and snooze options.
Pros of Pill Reminder:
- The app is very easy to use!
- What sets this app apart from others is the flexibility in the alarm function. For each medication, you can choose one of over 30 tones (or silent). Tones vary in length from 1 second to 11 seconds.
- Additionally, the snooze function is very flexible. You can turn the snooze on for all or some of your medications. You can snooze 1-5 times per reminder, with 9 snooze frequency options, ranging from every minute to every hour. The customization options for each medication allows to create a reminder system that works throughout the day for each user.
- When entering medications, you can look up medications on the US FDA database.
- For each medication you enter, you can include information on the prescribing doctor and the pharmacy. This is quite helpful if you have multiple doctors prescribing medications, or if you use different pharmacies for different medications.
- You can include instructions and information on side effects for each medication, along with anything else of interest in the notes section.
- If desired, you can add a photo (that you take) to each medication for easy identification.
- You can swipe your screen to mark a medication as “Taken” directly from the lock screen or notification banner
- When it’s time for a prescription refill, the app can remind you.
- You can send Weekly Adherence Reports and medication lists by email to yourself or to anyone on your medical team.
- It’s easy to use this app for more than one patient. You can set medications, reminders, reports, etc. for each patient.
- You can add reminders for doctor (and any other kind) appointments.
Cons of Pill Reminder:
- If you take more than 2 medications and/or need more than 2 reminders/day, you must upgrade the app for a one-time charge of $1.99.
- There is no Android version.
- I could not find a way to sign in to allow me to have my data shared across my devices. If it is possible, it’s not easy to figure out!
NOTE: I updated this post on March 25, 2019.