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Pill Reminder by Drugs.com
About half of all treatment failures and around 125,000 deaths annually in the US are caused by a failure to follow instructions for taking prescription medications and using other treatments prescribed by a doctor.
“Non-adherence” behaviors like skipping medications, taking them at the wrong time or doubling up on dosages can have life-threatening consequences, and the risks rise with multiple prescriptions. But research reveals that innovative digital technologies such as pill reminders can help to improve medication adherence and prevent the consequences that can come when patients don’t follow their doctor’s instructions.
Pill Reminder from Drugs.com is one of several new technologies designed to help patients take medications correctly. This free, easy to use app reminds patients when it’s time to take their medications and allows them to track medication usage over time and share the information with healthcare providers, family members or caregivers.
Medication Reminders Boost Adherence—and Safety
Successful medical treatment usually depends on following “doctor’s orders” on prescriptions and other recommendations. But when patients don’t take medications as prescribed, it can take longer for treatments to be effective. In some cases, it can lead to emergency room visits, hospitalizations and even death.
Non-adherence to prescription instructions can take many forms, ranging from failing to fill or refill a prescription to missing doses, taking the wrong dose, or doubling a dose because the patient forgot they took the medication the first time. Non-adherence can also include taking someone else’s medications or taking a different one than the doctor prescribed.
Non-adherence isn’t the same as non-compliance, although sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. Non-compliance describes a patient’s deliberate refusal to follow a treatment plan. But a patient who doesn’t adhere to a treatment regimen typically isn’t doing so deliberately. They may have trouble understanding prescription instructions, suffer from memory or cognitive problems, or have other circumstances that make it easy to forget or mismanage medications. And adherence can be especially challenging for people taking several medications at once.
To help patients take medications correctly, healthcare professionals use a variety of strategies ranging from counseling to tracking the number of refills and directly counting the number of pills a patient has on hand. But digital technologies can also complement these strategies.
Research indicates that digitally enhanced devices and apps may be effective tools for keeping patients on the right track, particularly if they have to juggle several prescriptions at once. Smart pill dispensers, packaging with built in trackers, and medications with bio ingestible sensors are among the new, AI-powered solutions for boosting medication adherence. But the most effective and accessible technologies include simple pill reminder apps that alert patients when it’s time to take medications and refill prescriptions. The no-frills Pill Reminder is one of these – a free downloadable app that does exactly what its name says it does.
What is the Pill Reminder App?
The Pill Reminder is free to download for both iOS and Android from leading app stores including Google Play and the Apple Store. It can be installed on any devices patients already use, so that they can get reminders anytime, anywhere. When a new prescription is filled, users enter its prescribing information into the app and set an alert for the appropriate times.
After taking the medication, users check a box next to its name to record the event. The Pill Reminder also displays an image of the medication and links to other information such as side effects and drug interactions. The photo of the medication and basic information about it appears with each alert, which can help to eliminate confusion among medications with similar appearances.
The Pill Reminder also stores a history of alerts for each medication, and allows the app to share data with other approved individuals. That can help healthcare providers and caregivers track patterns and identify times and circumstances that affect a patient’s ability to adhere to prescribing instructions.
The Pill Reminder can be used by anyone with any kind of prescription medication, but it can be especially effective for those who take multiple medications throughout the day. Each medication is entered separately and assigned its own alert time, which helps to organize the medications. When a course of medication is completed, the medication can be deleted from the app.
The Pill Reminder is simple to use, once it’s set up with a user’s medication regimen. But because each medication and its prescribing information must be manually entered into the app, adding prescriptions can be time consuming, especially when multiple medications and different times are involved. That may create obstacles for anyone who has less familiarity with digital tech, such as older users.
The Pill Reminder’s developers point out that the app can also be used by caregivers and healthcare providers to help patients adhere to prescription instructions and track their progress. The app allows anyone in the user’s support network to get a notification when the patient fails to respond to the alert, so that they can intervene and ensure the medication is taken properly.
Alternatives to the Pill Reminder
The Pill Reminder is one of many free medication reminder and health tracking apps currently available for both iOS and Android devices. These reminder apps can be downloaded from their home sites or from reputable app stores and installed on any device a patient is already using. Popular alternatives to the Pill Reminder app all share its basic functions, and include:
Medisafe calls itself the world’s leading medication reminder app. Along with the usual time and dosage reminders, Medisafe also includes drug interaction warnings to let patients know when medications should not be taken together, or with certain foods.
Medisafe can also alert users when it’s time for a refill, and has an option for listing someone else as a “Medifriend” who will be notified if a medication is missed. For users with complex conditions that require managing multiple prescriptions, the app offers a user-friendly interface that can be updated at any time as prescribing information changes. Data stored in the app can also be shared with others.
Mango Health is a full-featured health and wellness app that includes medication reminders along with other options for tracking a variety of health related metrics and goals. With Mango Health, users can also set personalized reminders to stay hydrated, check their blood pressure, or maintain other healthy routines.
Like other medication reminder apps, Mango Health provides information about drug interactions and side effects for every medication a user enters. To help users stick with their goals, Mango Health is gamified, so that they can earn points, win badges and even redeem real-life rewards for meeting goals and never missing a dose.
MyTherapy Medication Reminder and Pill Tracker
MyTherapy Medication Reminder and Pill Tracker is a customizable tracking app that allows users to set alerts for a variety of health and fitness goals, including exercise, measurements such as blood pressure, and medications. MyTherapy uses stored data to provide overviews of a user’s overall health, which can show patterns that indicate areas for improvement. The app also allows a user’s family and healthcare providers to share information collected by the app and alerts family members when a user forgets to take a scheduled medication.
What People Are Saying About Pill Reminder
Reviews of Pill Reminder are mixed, although generally positive. The review site RankedHealth gives the app 3 out of 5 stars for functionality and 4 out of 5 stars for usability. Users praise Pill Reminder’s simplicity, since it’s dedicated to just one function—reminding people to take their medications and tracking them over time to ensure that they regularly do so. The option to share data with others, such as healthcare providers, is also a plus.
Pill Reminder’s medical alerts are highly detailed, with in-depth information about each medication and its potential risks and interactions. But that can also be a downside for some users. Pill Reminder requires users to manually enter their medications into the app interface using information from the prescription or container. That can be time consuming and frustrating for users taking multiple medications, or who are uncomfortable with using digital tools such as the keyboard on a smartphone or tablet.
Pill Reminder’s exclusive focus on medication reminders can also be a drawback for users who want to incorporate tracking for all their health and fitness goals into a single app. Because Pill Reminder doesn’t allow for tracking metrics such as blood pressure or weight, users would need to get a second device or app for that.
Medication reminder apps like Pill Reminder can be valuable tools for boosting patients’ adherence to their treatment protocols, and that leads to more favorable outcomes. These apps and devices can be especially useful for managing multiple medications with different prescribing instructions, and they can also help to create a support network of family, caregivers and doctors to ensure patients are taking their medications correctly. Pill Reminder is free, relatively user friendly and focused on the features that matter most: reliable alerts and essential information.