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Mobile App Review: Medication Reminders
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Mobile App Review: Medication Reminders - Executive Leadership Articles

Mobile App Review: Medication Reminders

Executive Leadership Articles

Mobile App Review: Medication Reminders

It seems like an obvious niche for application software: mobile reminders to take our medications, and trackers to help us remember what we’ve taken and what we haven’t. Yet despite the millions and millions of people on daily prescriptions or supplements, you seldom hear people talk about this aspect of health monitoring.

Clearly, though, there’s a need. We did a search through the app stores, and there are more medication reminders than we could reasonably review in this space, so instead we’ll cover the basic features and mention a few we tried, ending with a caution worth considering before you jump headlong into these apps.

Features are many, but some of the basics (the first few, obviously, are must-haves):

  • Alerts at different times of day for different doses.
  • Checkboxes (or similar) so a later glance will tell you what you’ve taken on any day.
  • Easy navigation, entering info, and editing info (especially critical if you’re setting up the app for someone less tech-savvy than you).
  • Easy postponement of a dosage for times when you’re in the middle of soemthing.
  • Management of more than one person’s medication schedule, for parents or caregivers.
  • Warnings about negative interactions between medications.
  • Photos of the medication.
  • Syncing across multiple devices and web interface.

The consensus seems to be that Medisafe is the best medication reminder app, and we can see why. Although it’s not our first choice, it has the best set of features, including videos about your medications if you need some basic info. It’s fairly easy to use on its basic level, but has extra functionality for those who (for example) wish to import their medication information right from their pharmacy, if it’s among a few participating national U.S. chains. We like the graphical represenation of each pill in pillbox compartments on your screen. It’s easy to see at a quick look that you haven’t taken your round, pale green pill for its late morning dosage because you still see its Dr. Mario-like image in the late-morning compartment of today’s pillbox. It’s kind of mesmerizing to play with.

The Mango Health app is a more multifaceted health management tool which reminds you to check your blood glucose, take a walk, drink some water, and swallow your pills, and it has a gamified functionality (if you want it) awarding points for completing your tasks. Points are traded in for raffle entries, earning you the chance to win gift cards, so you can get some good stuff (from national supermarket chains or online stores, for instance), not just some sticker to display next to your user name. As you improve your performance, you level up and qualify for more gifts. Its multi-functionality and friendly interface are appealing, and Mango Health would be our first choice except that we’re looking for something simple. Too much interactivity gets in the way of the other things we have going on with our phones. All we really want is an attractive, easy-to-use reminder/tracker.

This is why we like Round. Life seldom has room for specific, strict times during which to take our meds, and since our meds are vaguer in their dosage recommendations (twice a day with meals; once in the morning and once in the afternoon as needed…), we like Round’s “windows” of time. You specify how large a window you want, and it reminds you persistently throughout the window to take your meds. If you’re in the middle of something or still in line at the deli and therefore not ready to take a pill, you simply postpone the pill and you’re reminded again in a few minutes. This by itself simply clicked with us better than the features of other apps we explored (six in all). We didn’t get a chance to explore Round’s new smart-connected pill bottle (an actual, physical bottle, not a bottle icon on your phone) that knows when you’ve opened it and can reorder your refills for you, but it looks fun as well as functional, and the app is great to look at.

As unscientific as this product research was, it was also applied research: we were looking for something to integrate into our lives that would be pleasant, easy to use, unintrusive, and reliable. We like all three apps we’ve named, but we haven’t committed to any of them yet, because a person’s medication is a very personal thing. What’s are we trading for our free use of these apps, and what might the consequences be? We tried to read the terms of service and privacy policies for each app, but if you’ve ever tried to read a terms of service,you know why this strained our attention and willingness to delve. Even in our trials, we entered medication info for prescriptions that we didn’t actually have, just as a hypothetical test, so as not to make our health information available to those with malicious intent. So please consider this a warning that you’re making this info vulnerable if you put it into a mobile app. If that matters to you, consider alternate strategies.

Still, who wants to miss out on something that can be so useful to millions and millions of people? We have smartphones for reasons, and medication tracking could be among the most practical and noble of reasons for a technology like this. Toward this resolution, we determined that we really need to examine the terms of service, which we’ll try to break down in our next mobile app review.

 

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Mobile App Review: Medication Reminders - Executive Leadership Articles

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