iPod Touch medication reminder app?
March 13, 2009 6:52 PM   Subscribe

Is there an application for the iPod Touch/iPhone that will remind me to take my medication via badge or alarm and note when I have?

I'm on several medications to treat fibromyalgia and now I'm also battling a case of walking pneumonia, which means I have several more pills to add to the daily queue. Unfortunately fibro fog often makes it impossible for me to remember if I've taken my meds or not. To mitigate my shortcomings I've been using an app on my Touch called Todo and checking off when I've taken the meds plus setting an alarm in my calendar to remind me it's time for my next dose. It's unwieldy and a total pain. Is there an app that I could log my medications, the time I need to take them and when I have done so? It doesn't need to be free. A feature of the Todo app is that when there are outstanding tasks to be performed, a badge pops up on the icon to remind you. I would be happy with that or an email reminder in lieu of an actual alarm. Even a web app would work if it sent emails.

In short is there a way to:

1. Notify me to take my meds (via email, iPod calendar-type alarm or app badge)
2. Log when I say I've done so, that way I don't take something twice.
3. Keep track of exactly what I'm on (preferably with dosage amounts)
4. Located all in one place, so I don't have to run a gauntlet setting it up and maintaining it?
posted by nuala to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Just a thought, but you could create items on your calendar as recurring events. For example, an event for 9:00 AM or something that says, "Cymbalta, 60MG", and repeats every day.

Your phone will pop up and alert you when you get close to the specified time. You could delete that instance of the event every day once you've taken the medication, so you know you've done it.

Just a thought.
posted by kbanas at 7:00 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Have you looked in the medical category? I was thinking of developing such an app several months ago, and looked in the app store and there were one or maybe two such apps that were already there. I don't know if they have all the features you want, but I'd be surprised if it didn't. It's a natural app. Look in the medical or health category, and search for "compliance".
posted by alms at 8:13 PM on March 13, 2009

Best answer: Hurrah, finally an askmefi question that I can answer!

I use an app called MedsLog on my iPhone that is pretty useful, and which appears to be pretty actively developed with good improvements. (it costs $3, btw) You can load in the daily and semi-regular medicines that you take, with the dosage, any notes, and the time of day you're supposed to take it. For example, "Cymbalta, 60 mg, 9am, take with food" or "Ritalin, 10 mg, 9am and 3pm, take before food". When you take your pill, just flick open the app and there's a nice front page with all your meds listed, tap the one you're taking, and tap to show that you're taking it. The app logs the time you've taken it, so later in the day you can say "shoot, did I take it at 9am or 10am?" and look to see. You can also email yourself a log of all your logs for record-keeping.

When you set it up for taking pills at certain times of the day, it has a half-way functional alarm. The only problem is that the iPhone/iTouch operating system doesn't allow for apps to run in the background. So if the app gets opened up and you're late taking a pill, it will show numbers on the badge and red "you're late" on the app's main page. But if you don't go near your phone or don't actually open the app, there's no way for the app to remind you about taking the pills. Again, that's not the fault of the app's software, but rather a limitation of the iPhone/iTouch. Cross your fingers that the 3.0 software update coming next week fixes that problem!

So depending whether you're coherent enough to make it a habit to open the app every now and then and check your timing, the MedsLog app by itself should be enough for you. However, I still think that the best way to make sure you get the reminder in time is to use the alarm function on the phone. You can set multiple repeating events and make the alarm notation tell you which pill to take (I'm assuming there are multiples....)

My personal issue with using the alarm function by itself is that my alarm would pop up "time to take med xyz!" and I would go "oh, yeah, okay, I'll do that in a minute" and turn the alarm off without actually taking it. That's why the MedsLog function of actually tapping to log that I took the pill was helpful for me.

I like kbanas' idea also, but a nice thing about MedsLog is that you can easily look back and see exactly when you took the med, not just that you took it. Also, I loaded in not just my daily medication but other pills that I take occasionally, such as pain meds.

Hope that helps! I wish there were a more perfect solution, and I definitely hope the updated iPhone/iTouch software lets the 3rd party applications run in the background to give us updates and alarms like the system apps (calendar, text, etc) can.

Good luck!
posted by ahimsa at 8:30 PM on March 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I really love Ask Metafilter; the intelligence and thoughtfulness here never ceases to amaze. I hadn't thought of deleting the calendar entries after taking the meds. Thanks.

Alms, I had searched the medical category but after a lot of searching there and through Google the only option I found worth using was an app that cost fifteen dollars that recommended leaving the app running at all times to get the most out of it, which effectively ruled it out for me.

Ahimsa, that app looks nearly perfect! I agree, the absence of background processes leaves little room to manuever. Beejive IM handles it best by sending an email when you get a response and the app is closed. With a microsoft exchange email and push, it's pretty seamless. I wonder if the makers of MedsLog would consider something similar to notify. In the meantime I'll try clock alarms along with MedsLog.

I'm still open to other suggestions! This has helped a lot already.
posted by nuala at 9:02 PM on March 13, 2009

Your question piqued my interest, since I downloaded MedsLog back in December and hadn't looked through the more recently added apps. I scanned through the medical app section, and there are two or three other apps for tracking medications, but they're mostly less thorough than MedsLog. (bc they're free or cheaper, I guess) And none of them have any better options for alarms/reminders.

I only take pills about 3x a day (and they make me more alert, not less, like yours) so I don't have too hard of a time remembering to look at the clock and think "is my next dose at 1pm or 2pm?" But if you are foggy, I guess my best advice would be to put the MedsLog app at the top of your iPhone's first app screen and get in the habit of picking it up every hour or so and clicking open the program.

Ooh, just remembered... There are some other alternatives for medicine reminders that don't involve the iPhone. I've seen digital watches with elaborate multi-alarm functions advertised toward ADD/ADHD folks for medication reminders as well as "time to leave for work" and etc. Those would solve the problem of needing to be near your iPhone or open the application, but I don't think there's much of a way to log your pill history on them. I don't have a link handy, but if you go to any major ADD site you should be able to find an ad or review of one.

It's definitely worth a try to ask the MedsLog developer to look at the email system Beejive uses...
posted by ahimsa at 10:27 PM on March 13, 2009

You can also go straight to the source. There's a product called "Glowcaps" that replaces the lid on the bottle and will light up/beep when it's time to take your medication.
posted by jeremias at 5:18 AM on March 14, 2009

Apple won't allow any 3rd party app to run in the background, so even if such an app existed you would need to continuously have it running for a reminder to popup unless it somehow interfaced with the calendar app.

On my iPhone I set up a recurring event in Calendar to remind me to take my antibiotics for a week. Add a event like usual, but touch repeat. Then touch everyday and it will repeat at that time. So if you have to take your pill at 10-2 and 6PM, for example add two more events for those times, and set it to repeat. I hope Calendar on the iPod touch is the same.

Or use the Clock app, I use the alarm function with repeat to wake up everyday except on my days off. So once set, no need to do anything else. And you can add multiple alarms throughout the day. The alarm clock is really annoying because if you snooze it (any button), it will go off again in 10 minutes. Only way to stop it from repeating is 1) restart device 2) slide.

Again, I hope this is also applicable to the iPod.
posted by glenno86 at 9:37 AM on March 14, 2009

Response by poster: I've been using MedsLog along with click alarms and it's just what I needed. The snooze feature of the alarm is just annoying enough that I don't turn it off and just forget to take the medication. Plus, you were right, being able to tap to signal that I've taken the meds means I'm sure I did it.

Thanks again.
posted by nuala at 10:48 AM on March 14, 2009

The iPhone has new shiny special integration with Google Calendar. I'm using it and it works great. Google calendar can also do things like alert you on your PC and send text messages. It would be much more robust than just a med reminder program.


Just a thought.
posted by Ynoxas at 1:56 PM on March 14, 2009

Response by poster: I tried setting up google calendars (which I already use on my Mac) but giving up push was a deal-breaker for me. I need that for e-mail and GMail isn't included in setup for the calendars, so MedsLog + clock alarms has been my solution. I'm very pleased with all the help. Thank you!
posted by nuala at 9:46 PM on April 13, 2009

Response by poster: An e-mail from the creator of MedsLog:

I have found out that Apple's upcoming OS 3.0 due out this summer will allow apps to get messages similar to what you describe below [ED: e-mail push notification or alarm], however, it requires a server somewhere that "pushes" these messages. I really don't have the resources for a separate server, but I'm working on something else that might work, assuming you use (or have access to) a Macintosh computer.

Soon I hope to have a Mac MedsLog. If all goes well, you will be able to sync it with the iPhone MedsLog. Plus, the Mac version will be able to sync with Apple's iCal calendar, creating iCal events for every med that needs an alarm. Then these iCal events will be synced with the calendar on the iPhone. The result is an iPhone calendar reminder whenever you need it, regardless of what app is in front. The pricing will probably be about $10 for the Mac version.

Feel free to post that on the MetaFilter web site. I'd be curious what people would think of the idea.

posted by nuala at 11:52 PM on April 20, 2009

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