Forgetting to take medications or not taking medications as prescribed is a huge problem and a health risk. According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, poor adherence to medication causes approximately 33% to 69% of medication-related hospitalizations and accounts for $100 billion in annual health care costs. Medication reminder apps can be a big help to elderly people and caregivers but there are so many to choose from and how do you know which is the best or who to look to for advice? For advice related to your health you want evidence-based information provided by a credible source. Here’s a brief overview of a study on medication reminder apps to help you on your quest to find that high quality, easy to use, feature-filled app that's best for your needs.
In a study from the University of Sydney 272 medication reminder apps were evaluated from the Australian Google Play store and Apple iTunes. After evaluating the descriptions and reviews of all the apps, researchers scored the apps against 3 practical features and 17 functional features. The practical features included the availability of the app in both app stores, availability for free without ads, and an update in the last couple of years. Functionality features included the availability of medication tracking, snooze option, flexible scheduling, medication database, refill reminders, reminders with no Internet connection, data exportation and sharing, multiple users support, notification for other people, data security, password protection, multilingual options, time zone support, adherence statistics, rewards when the medication is taken, customizable alert sounds, and visual aids. Apps were classified as advanced apps if they were able to track medication history.
The top 5 apps were downloaded and further assessed using the Medical App Rating Scale. This is a tool that has been developed by researchers to aid them in assessing the quality of mobile health apps. As explained by the researchers, "The MARS instrument provides a deeper evaluation of the app quality by testing the app thoroughly for 10 minutes and grading the app in several domains, including user engagement, functionality, aesthetics, information, and app subjective quality."
The results from the top 5 apps are as follows. Medisafe (iOS | Android) and Pill Reminder (iTunes) from Drugs.com were found to be the best advanced apps with each including 14 out of the 17 desired functional features. Out of the top basic apps, AlarMeds (Google Play) had the most functionalities, 7 out of 17, the My Heart My Life app was given top marks for being easy to use, and the MedicineList+ app was recognized as providing high quality information from the National Prescribing Service MedicineWise Australia. Using the MARS tool My Heart My Life was rated as the best basic app available. Note that MedicineList+ and My Heart My Life are only available in Australia.
In the concluding remarks of the study researchers noted, "In this review, we found a large number of medication reminder apps available in the app stores; however, majority of them were considered low quality. Through a systematic stepwise process, we were able to identify high-quality apps to be tested in a future study that will provide evidence on the use of medication reminder apps to improve medication adherence."
A version of this article, "Study finds the best medication adherence medical apps", was first published at imedicalapps.commedicalapps.com.
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