Mark suffers from high blood pressure. His doctor prescribed him medications to take throughout the day, but Mark sometimes forgets. By evening, this can result in health issues and 911 calls.
There are millions of Marks in the world, and they all could use a helpful tool to remind them to take their meds.
In the past, people like Mark had to write down medication schedules and use an organizer. Now they can take advantage of medication management apps. A mobile medication application can send Mark a notification when it’s time to take a pill. If he puts off taking it, a family member can receive a notification and remind him.
In this way, a medication app solves Mark’s problem. It also alleviates a source of stress for Mark and his entire family. In the long run, using a medication app also reduces the workload for Mark’s doctor.
The importance of medication management applications
Managing medications involves a lot of organizing and planning. Patients need to:
- List all prescribed meds and label their use
- Create a schedule for when medications should be taken
- Make a pill organizer like a dosette box with separate compartments for times of the day and days of the week
- Follow the schedule to take medications on time
- Make a copy of the schedule to share with a doctor
Because of the complexity of medication management, around 50% of prescriptions in the US are not taken correctly. Non-adherence results in hospitalization risks as well as 125,000 preventable deaths and $300 billion in avoidable healthcare costs each year.
But people with smartphones can use a powerful medication management app to keep their medication intake on schedule.
How strong is the demand for medication management apps?
Since 2015, the number of mHealth apps in major app stores has doubled. Now there are over 318,000 mHealth apps available for download. Around 60% of smartphone users have downloaded at least one mHealth app, and 48% are actively using more than five.
Studies have found that 75% of mHealth app users find in-app reminders helpful for medication management. And 30% of respondents are interested in using standalone medication management applications with tools for tracking medications and an advanced reminder system.
There are three major categories of medication app users:
- High-risk patients with serious health conditions who need a digital tool to coordinate their medications.
- Elderly people who often forget to take pills. With an app, they can receive timely reminders and share their schedules and medication history with caregivers (mostly family members).
- Parents who need to oversee prescriptions for their children or the whole family.
For all categories of users, a medication schedule app removes the burden of sticking to the medication routine.
Medication reminders vs medication management apps
In essence, many apps billed as “medication reminder” apps offer SMS alerts. However, these apps can easily be replaced by a smartphone’s default functionality.
The following classification is for entrepreneurs who want to develop a medication management app and want to understand the difference between present-day offerings.
There are three types of medication reminder apps:
- Simple medication reminders (SMRs) — These are medication apps for patients that offer some basic features like flexible scheduling and customizable alerts.
- Advanced medication reminders(AMRs) — In addition to the basic features of SMRs, AMRs offer time zone support, pictures of medications, tracking of late and missed doses, and user notes.
- Medication management apps (MMAs) — These combine the features of the two previous types and allow users to create multiple accounts, manage and store health data, and share information with doctors.
Four problems that medication management apps can solve
There are different ways medication management apps can benefit their users. These apps offer solutions to four key problems.
Must-have and nice-to-have features of medication management apps
What determines the popularity of medication calendar apps? It’s the set of features and the functionality of the mobile application. Most free mobile apps include basic must-have features, whereas apps with additional nice-to-have features may cost money.
Must-have features of MMAs
- Digital scheduling allows users to create daily/weekly/monthly schedules by entering basic information about medications: names of medications, physical descriptions of pills, dosages, when and how to take them.
- Smart reminders pop up when it’s time to take medications. They keep buzzing and dinging until a patient takes their dose. Advanced reminder apps allow users to postpone medication intake. Ideally, reminders also work for people with hearing and vision impairments.
- An interaction algorithm sends warning messages if newly scheduled medications aren’t compatible with previously scheduled medications. In advanced medication management applications, users can input health factors like allergies or pregnancy.
- Prescription renewal alerts notify mobile app users when it’s time to refill their prescriptions. In most cases, these are just alerts. Sometimes, once users receive alerts, they’re given a form to fill out to refill their prescriptions. This form is sent directly to a doctor.
- A pill identifier can be of two types. The less convenient requires the user to input the pill’s characteristics; then the app checks a database to generate a list of pills with similar characteristics. The more user-friendly type allows a user to upload a photo of a pill so an image analyzing algorithm can find similar pills in a database.
- Location search allows users to find the nearest drugstore with the required medication in stock. Some apps also have a map with navigation.
- A notes field lets users enter specific instructions for taking medications, list possible side effects, and add recommendations from a doctor.
- A missed dose tracker records if a user took a dose. These records are helpful for tracking the overall treatment process.
- Sharing is a must when someone else is helping a patient to manage their medications. A medication app allows users to export their schedules to share with family caregivers and doctors.
Nice-to-have features of MMAs
- A “buddy” field allows a user to choose a person who will receive notifications if they fail to take a scheduled medication.
- Caring for multiple people is now possible with medication management apps. Some apps allow a user to add multiple patients and create individual schedules and receive timely alerts for each.
- A companion website allows users to access profile information via a computer, input information, and synchronize it with a mobile phone.
With a full set of features in one app, patients can easily reduce the number of visits to the doctor’s office and remember to take their medications. The question is if a single mobile app can meet all of a patient’s medication management needs. Are the majority of apps on the market just prescription tracker apps with alarms? Let’s have a closer look.
Five apps to improve medication management
These are the five mobile apps that people with medication management needs find the most user-friendly and feature-filled.
Medisafe is a leading medication management app with almost 5 million users in over 150 countries.
The free version of the app is packed with the most helpful features. Among them is access to 20+ health measurements, interaction warnings, unlimited profiles, refill reminders, customized reminder sounds, a vast choice of themes, report sharing, and health app integration. A version without banner ads is available for $4.99 a month.
Medisafe has a rating of 4.7 stars on the App Store. One drawback noted by a few users is temporary failures to remove a medication or change the time for doses.
With the free CareZone app, users can take photos of their medications. All other medication details are added automatically.
Along with standard features like schedules and reminders, CareZone has trackers for sleep, weight, and blood glucose level. Medication data can be shared with insurance providers, doctors, and pharmacies. Through the CareZone community, users can connect to other people with the same diagnoses and share their personal experiences.
CareZone has a rating of 4.6 stars on the App Store. Among the drawbacks users note are too many ads and paid features. A few users have complained about unwanted emails upon deleting the app and unsubscribing.
MedAdvisor is a pocket pharmacist that allows users to create multiple accounts. Each account must be activated by a pharmacist.
Upon account activation, a user can view all current medications and dosage instructions. The app allows users to set schedules and reminders, keep a record of past medications, check side effects, and refill prescriptions.
The MedAdvisor app has a rating of 4.5 stars on the App Store. Some users have reported login issues with a recent update.
Mango Health is characterized as the best option for patients that need lots of medication information and the ability to share data with others.
Reminders in Mango Health are easy to schedule and edit. The app also includes healthy habit reminders for things like watching weight and tracking steps. Mango Health gives rewards for taking medications according to the schedule. Upon collecting enough rewards, users can receive gift cards to their favorite stores.
The daily health diary feature allows users to reference their health history during a doctor’s appointment.
Mango Health has a rating of 4.4 stars on the App Store. According to some reports, the application doesn’t work correctly after changing the time zone.
Dosecast was launched in 2010. Though in the past ten years many other medication management apps have appeared, Dosecast is still considered the easiest tool to use.
The free edition of this prescription drug app offers flexible scheduling with the ability to schedule doses on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, on certain days of the week, and even after a preset number of hours or days.
Reminders include the name of the drug and dosage directions and automatically adjust as a user moves across time zones. With the Pro edition, users have access to their dosage history, can refill notifications, and can synchronize data across multiple devices. The Pro version comes with a one-week free trial period.
App Store users give Dosecast 4.3 stars. According to some reviews, a few of the most important features are paid only.
Though packed with multiple useful features, ready-made medication management apps have a few drawbacks as reported by active users. Taking all these drawbacks into account, you can create a perfect mobile application.
Software by the Steelkiwi team
Steelkiwi is a US outsourcing development company with two offices in Ukraine. We develop mobile applications and web platforms based on the latest technologies:
- React, Angular, and Vue for frontend development
- Python/Django as the core of the backend development stack
- Swift and Objective-C for iOS apps
- Kotlin and Java for Android mobile apps
- Flutter for Android mobile apps
Medical and healthcare apps are one of our specialties at Steelkiwi. One of our latest digital products is Meddy.co, a platform that allows patients to schedule appointments with their doctors. In 2019, Meddy.co became the largest doctor booking platform in the UAE and facilitated over 50,000 visits. Meddy has raised a pre-Series A round of $560,000 and $2.5 million in Series A funding.
You might be wondering how much it will cost you to develop a medical management mobile app. The cost depends on the complexity of the project and the number of hours that IT specialists will spend developing the app. It took us 850 hours to develop Meddy.co, but the total number of hours varies from project to project. Check out our projects and healthcare software development offer for details.
Share some information about your app and its functionality and our team will provide a rough estimate of the number of hours required to develop it.