But don’t worry, there’s an app for that

If you’ve recently been prescribed a long-term schedule of medication, you might be finding it difficult to remember to take it, especially if there are no symptoms to give you a daily reminder.

You’re not alone. Research says this is happening across the world and it’s dangerous. In Australia, health insurer Bupa estimates, “more than 100 million medicines are prescribed every year but one in two people fail to take them correctly”.

But the academics are telling us technology can help make popping those pills a habit.

There’s a trial happening in Australian hospitals at the moment called TEXTMEDS. Researchers are trialling a number of interventions among 1,400 coronary heart disease sufferers delivered via a mobile phone. One of the main functions is to remind them to take their medication.

One of the researchers, Doctor Clara Chow, wrote a piece for The Conversation noting just how important keeping up a medication routine is.

“In fact, within a year of being diagnosed with a chronic condition, only 50 per cent of patients still take their medications correctly,” she wrote.

“Some have stopped altogether. These patients can unwittingly put themselves at greater risk of heart attack, stroke or premature death.”

The point is, sufferers of chronic conditions are likely to be on a long-term schedule of medication for a very good reason and – even if forgetfulness is to blame – disrupting those treatments is dangerous. That’s where technology can help.

Text messages and apps do the talking

You’ve probably had appointment reminders messaged to you from your GP, specialist, physio, hair dresser and dog washer. It’s a popular tool for service-based businesses to use to ensure their patients and customers are making their appointments.

Dr Chow and her team reviewed studies from across the world on the effectiveness of text messaging and found it “doubled the odds of patients with chronic diseases sticking to their medication program”.

Text messaging services like these are often from a healthcare provider and while Dr Chow’s trial is still underway, there are a number of smartphone applications already available that can help you manage your meds.

These are free to download and trial. See what works for you and consult your GP about your approach. If your regular GP is closed and you need to see a Doctor, Call House Call Doctor on 135566, book online, or through our free app.

Check out:

  • MedicineList+: This app was developed by the independent Australian body NPS MedicineWise. As well as a feature that allows you to set reminders of medication times and doses, it can scan the barcode of drug packaging and compile it so you always have a list of all the medications you’re taking
  • Medadvisor: This app is provided by Bupa. As well as reminding you to take your medication, this app can connect you with a network of pharmacies across Australia and store your prescription history. Also, if you’re not a regular smartphone user, Medadvisor has a desktop application.