Until my diagnosis, I didn’t regularly take any medications so tracking when to take a pill was never an issue. Of course, multiple myeloma changed all that. Since my stem cell transplant, I take about 11 pills per day. I say “about” because the number varies; I take at least five extra pills on infusion days, and I intermittently take additional medications to address insomnia, heartburn, cramping, neuropathy, pain, and other side effects.
Being a geek at heart I looked at this new reality as an opportunity to find a technological solution, hopefully one that involved my iPhone and AppleWatch.
I discovered an application called Easy Pill for iOS by BirdsCorp.com and have been using it since 2016. Easy Pill is an iOS app that tracks my medications and gives me reminders when it’s time to take a pill.
The obvious first step to using Easy Pill was to input my medications into the app. I could create a list of medications either on a mobile device or the Easy Pill web page.
I didn’t use the web page, but if I had, I would have created a list of all my medications, doses, and schedule. The page then creates a QR code to scan with the app which then transfers all the information into the app. I tested this method and it works well. At the time I started using the app, however, I didn’t want to upload my medications to a web page I hadn’t researched.
I chose, instead, to input my information directly into the app on the phone. I wouldn’t call this process “intuitive”, but it didn’t take long for me to get the hang of it.
Honestly, part of the challenge was a good thing because it comes from choosing between the many options available. How often do you take the pill? Do you take the pill the same time every day? What is the duration of time taking this pill? Easy Pill offers a lot of flexibility to tailor the schedule exactly the way I want it for each medication. It took me a while to get everything the way I wanted, but I appreciated that I could create a schedule that was accurate and useful.
Medications can be viewed in two different ways. In one view, pills are listed alphabetically with all their vital information. The more useful view, and the one I use most of the time, is the daily view. It shows a chronological list of all the pills I take each day. An icon next to each pill tells me the time to take the pill and the color of the icon gives a visual cue if a pill is overdue or needs to be taken in the future.
The most useful feature of Easy Pill is that it reminds me to take my medication. This is accomplished with simple alerts that appear on the phone and with a tap on my wrist from my watch. The app gives options for setting up the type and frequency of the reminders so the app can nag as much or as little as I like. When the pill is taken a single touch on the phone or watch logs the dose as taken.
Easy Pill records the exact time I took medication and the icon for the pill changes to alert me that the status has changed. I can also skip a dose or pause a medication from the reminder alert. When I finish a course of medication Easy Pill remembers that and automatically moves the medication to the archives. I can open the archives to look at the history of the medication, or move it back into my active schedule if I start taking the medication again.
I use the archives to reactivate the cycles of treatment. For instance, I take Pomalyst twenty-one of twenty-seven days. When I take pill twenty-one, the app moves Pomaylst to the archives. When I begin a new treatment a cycle I just change the start date on the archive listing and Pomalyst becomes active again in the day view on day one of the new cycle.
Another handy feature of Easy Pill, though I haven’t used it much, is a direct Google link for each medication. I can follow the link to find information about and images of each medication. This is a nice way to remember what a pill looks like and learn about common side-effects.
Easy Pill not only reminds me to take my medications, but it tracks my progress in a number of ways. Easy Pill reports how many doses and how consistently I took the medication. If I input the quantity of pills when I start, Easy Pill will remind me when it’s time to refill the prescription.
Easy Pill also exports a medication list that includes pills that are currently taken or archived, detailed medication information and a dose log. This could be useful when I need to share a complete history of all my medications with care providers.
Easy Pill is $2.99 and it works on the iPhone and iPad. Oh look, its time to take another pill… until next time.