If you have a smart phone or mobile device, there are a number of apps that can send you a reminder to take your medicines, and you can record when you have taken your dose. These are called medication reminder apps or medication adherence apps. They allow you to record the name of your medicine, the dose to be taken and the time of day you need to take it.
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Medication reminder apps - how to choose?
There are a growing number of medication adherence apps to support people in taking their medicines regularly. These apps differ in terms of their features and usefulness. A study on the review of mobile apps to improve medication adherence identified the following functionality features to be important or desirable in medication reminder apps (Santo K, et al, 2016)(external link).¹
- Medication tracking history
- Ability to record and track taken and missed doses.
- Snooze option
- Ability to snooze the reminder for a predetermined period of time, for example, 15 minutes.
- Flexible scheduling
- Ability to schedule reminders to occur on a nondaily or monthly basis or every X days, or ability to schedule medications with stop dates.
- Medication database
- Availability of a medication database that allows the user to search and select a medication from the database.
- Refill reminders
- Ability to set reminders to the date when medication needs to be refilled.
- Reminders with no connectivity
- No Internet connection required for the reminders to function.
- Data exporting and sharing
- Ability to export and share the medication information to a third party, for example, family member or health care provider.
- Multiple users support
- Ability to generate medication reminders on different medications for more than 1 user, for example, family members.
- Notification for other people
- Availability of an option to alert other people about when to take their medication or when missed doses are registered.
- Data security
- The app developer ensures data security, for example, data are only stored in the user’s device or statement of HIPAAa compliance.
- Data privacy and password protection
- Password option to access the app.
- Availability of languages other than English.
- Time zone support
- Ability to change time zones to ensure medication is taken at the right time when traveling.
- Adherence rewards
- Availability of a feature that rewards the patient when the medication is taken on schedule, for example, awarding points for each medication taken that could be redeemed into vouchers.
- Adherence statistics and charts
- Availability of statistics and charts describing medication usage trends and adherence rates.
- Customizable alert sounds
- Availability of different types of notification sounds.
- Availability of icons (eg, tablet, syringe, drops) or ability to add a picture to provide visual clues (eg, to ensure correct medication is taken).
The following references relate to articles about apps for medication adherence.
- Santo K, Singleton A, Rogers K, et al. Medication reminder applications to improve adherence in coronary heart disease: a randomised clinical trial.(external link) Heart 2018
- Santo K, Richtering SS, Chalmers J, Thiagalingam A, et al. Mobile Phone Apps to Improve Medication Adherence: A Systematic Stepwise Process to Identify High-Quality Apps.(external link) JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2016 Dec 2;4(4):e132.
- Haase J, Farris KB, Dorsch MP. Mobile Applications to Improve Medication Adherence(external link). Telemed J E Health. 2016 Jun 1
- Nguyen E, Bugno L, Kandah C, et al. Is There a Good App for That? Evaluating m-Health Apps for Strategies That Promote Pediatric Medication Adherence(external link). Telemed J E Health. 2016 Apr 12
- Davies MJ, Kotadia A, Mughal H, et al. The attitudes of pharmacists, students and the general public on mHealth applications for medication adherence(external link). Pharm Pract (Granada). 2015 Oct-Dec;13(4):644.
- Becker S, Brandl C, Meister S, et al. Demographic and health related data of users of a mobile application to support drug adherence is associated with usage duration and intensity(external link). PLoS One. 2015 Jan 28;10(1)
- DiDonato KL, Liu Y, Lindsey CC, et al. Community pharmacy patient perceptions of a pharmacy-initiated mobile technology app to improve adherence(external link). Int J Pharm Pract. 2015 Oct;23(5):309-19.
- Heldenbrand S, Martin BC, Gubbins PO, et al. Assessment of medication adherence app features, functionality, and health literacy level and the creation of a searchable Web-based adherence app resource for health care professionals and patients(external link). J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2016 May-Jun;56(3):293-302.
- Lindsey Dayer, Seth Heldenbrand, Paul Anderson, et al. Smartphone medication adherence apps: Potential benefits to patients and providers(external link). J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2013 Mar-Apr; 53(2): 172–181
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