Managing Medications in iOS

Managing Medications in iOS

Although the built-in Reminders app, or any such third-party app, can help you schedule the medications you take, a dedicated medication management app will go beyond reminders and may provide additional features that help protect from overdose, incorrect medication, and harmful interactions; aid caregivers and healthcare professionals; and connect medications to doctors and pharmacies.

For the last few years, Pillboxie [App Store, $1] has been my go-to app for pill reminders. It handles multiple patients (think family members) and has great looking reports (medication lists and history) and its nagging reminders feature—which repeats reminders every minute until you take your meds or snooze the reminders—has overcome my forgetfulness.

So why would I look for a replacement? I’d be willing to overlook that Pillboxie still looks like a pre-iOS 7 app if it weren’t for the fact that it handles neither medications taken “as needed” (PRN) nor those taken at an hourly interval. To simulate the latter I could schedule multiple doses per day, but the reminders wouldn’t be rescheduled based on the time I took my meds. For example, say I take a drug every four hours and I set the first dose for 7am; if I actually take the first dose at 7:25am, the next dose should be taken at 11:25am—and Pillboxie would have me taking it early at 11am.

It turns out that very few apps get this right. Two, as a matter of fact.

When I previewed Easy Pill [App Store, $2] in the App Store, I had a sense I was in the presence of greatness. However, unlike most apps in this category, it’s strictly a paid app, so I didn’t download it until I’d waded through all the free and free-with-in-app-purchase apps first.

The app is gorgeous! It’s not just that it looks like a post-iOS 6 app, but the developer has made it very simple to add and track medications as well. Unlike most other apps I looked at, a single tap is all that is necessary to mark a drug “taken” and you can tap once again to adjust the time taken, if necessary. If you like, you can enable the display of a progress bar for each med that shows how far along in the cycle you are. And if you’re keeping track of how much of a medication is left, you can find the quantity right on the My Meds list.

Development of Easy Pill has been slow but steady over the last three years, perhaps reflecting the thoughtfulness of the developer. But I’m disappointed that in that time one feature important to me hasn’t been added: multiple patients. I could add my children’s names to the medications, I suppose, but it’s not quite as clean as having the feature built in.

Of the 27 apps I interviewed, Dosecast [App Store, $4 in-app purchase] was the final one. While looking at screenshots in the App Store, I wasn’t excited by the app’s design; however, its modest exterior belies the wealth of features inside.

Yes, it tracks medications taken. Yes, it reminds you to take your next dose after a pre-set number of hours. So it hits the two features that I’m needing now and includes (with the in-app purchase) the multi-patient feature that Easy Pill lacks. But wait…there’s more!

With the in-app purchase, you can track the doctor who prescribed the medication, as well as the pharmacy where you had the prescription filled; if you track the quantity, Dosecast will remind you when it’s time to refill. One nice touch is the ability to suspend reminders during bedtime hours, although I’d prefer that this be a per-patient and per-medication option. And I’m looking forward to their upcoming CloudSync service, which I hope will synchronize either select patients or individual medications between different users of the app—which would be great for me and my wife to coordinate our children’s schedules.

This is one of those times where I can’t have both form and function. Because Dosecast supports multiple patients, I’m reluctantly turning to it over Easy Pill to replace Pillboxie. But if you only need single-patient tracking, I wholeheartedly recommend Easy Pill—and I’ll keep my eye on it for future improvements in that area.

Two Years with Line2

Line2: Great service, less-than-great app

I’ve come to the end of two years with Line2, a cloud phone service that has replaced my business landline, and overall I’ve been pleased with the service. However, there are a number of niggling things with the iOS app itself which keep me from fully enjoying the service and which the company is slow—or unwilling—to fix.

The biggest issue for me is that there is no alert/banner or sound for new voicemail messages. Due to the lousy service from Sprint in my area, it’s not uncommon for a call to go straight to voicemail instead of ringing my phone. I only learn of the message through an email and I have to trigger the push notification through a Mail rule.

But there are more:

  • It takes too many taps to initiate a phone call to a given contact: three instead of one
  • Actions for voicemail messages are difficult, since the UI uses small tap targets
  • The mic button is disabled 90% of the time for voice input of text messages
  • The speaker turns off between messages when listening to voicemail
  • Favorites show the wrong contact in some cases
  • Anonymous callers are incorrectly shown as an existing contact in my recent calls
  • Dialer key feedback is either too loud or doesn’t exist at all
  • Contacts are mis-sorted
  • The app takes far too long to access my contacts and update call history, etc. with contact names when I’ve not been in the app for a while
  • The layout of the keypad screen is cluttered; the digits and contact name need to spread out a bit and the Call button needs to be smaller

In addition I’d like Line2 to support URLs to dial a number: line2://dial?885551212 for example. I could use this with Launch Center Pro and I’d step up my efforts to get Marketcircle to support third-party dialers in Daylite. But, as I said, Toktumi rarely fixes anything in the app and even more rarely shows up in their Community Forums.

Ember Keeps LittleSnapper's Flame Burning

Ember Keeps LittleSnapper's Flame Burning

I’m a screenshot nut. I take screenshots every day for documentation, support, explanation, etc., and I’ve tried just about every Mac app out there that claims to do the job. Except for a short flirtation with Skitch that ended badly, my utility of choice for the last four-and-a-half years has been LittleSnapper.

An App Store Updates Bug

An App Store Updates Bug

It seems the App Store has a bug, something that I noticed first when I went to download an update to Daylite and then to Instacast. Neither of the apps was showing in Updates, even though an update had been released. And when I searched for the apps, both merely showed an “Open” button on their cards. However, tapping the card to review the listing revealed an “Update” button.

This doesn’t happen with every update, fortunately.

Instashare Adds Clipboard Transfer

Instashare Adds Clipboard Transfer

Last February, I reviewed Instashare, an app [Free ($1 in-app upgrade to remove ads), iOS; $3, OS X] for sharing files between your OS X and iOS devices.

The Problem with Outsourcing Sites

The Problem with Outsourcing Sites

Anyone see a problem here? Need I say more?

Update 9/7/2013: Apparently I do. By “outsourcing sites” (without naming such sites) I mean sites where you go to outsource the work. Generally speaking, those looking to hire from those sites aren’t willing to pay for quality work, hence the project asking for a Drupal programmer at $10/hour.

Monitor an App's Internet Usage

Monitor an App's Internet Usage

Every once in a while I want to watch how an app is connecting to the Internet from my Mac, but outside of using Little Snitch’s network monitor I’ve not been quite sure how to do that. Today I was introduced to lsof, a Terminal command to list open files. After reading the manual (man lsof) I found this syntax to work very well for me:

lsof -a -i -c Dropbox

The “-a” ANDs the next two options—without it, the following options would be ORed.

Daylite Content Moved

Daylite Content Moved

Following my certification as [a Daylite Partner][partner], I have moved all of the content on this site related to Daylite to [a new site][dminsights].

Swapping Axes in Numbers

Swapping Axes in Numbers

I was working on a spreadsheet in Numbers and it occurred to me that the data could be presented better—when I convert it to HTML—if I were to swap the X and Y axes.

Creating iTunes Affiliate Links

Creating iTunes Affiliate Links

Every once in a while I’ll review an OS X or iOS app here and I, of course, post a link to the app. I finally got around to looking into the iTunes affiliate program and what I found wasn’t pretty:

http://click.linksynergy.com/link?id=yC4uoyBXOnA&offerid=146261.623799272&type=2&murl=http%3A%2F%2Fitunes.apple.com%2Fapp%2Fcloud-mate%2Fid623799272%3Fuo%3D5

Seriously, that example link is just ugly.

Enhancing Drupal's Multiple Term Filters

Enhancing Drupal's Multiple Term Filters

The Pathauto module for Drupal makes your links look pretty by automatically creating URL aliases when content is created. For example, when dealing with vocabularies, “example.com/taxonomy/term/1” can be gussied up as “example.com/tag/apple”.

The WWDC 2013 Keynote

OS X Sea Lion

This week’s WWDC keynote was, for a user (at least this user), very exciting. As I watched it, these thoughts occurred to me:

  • Craig Federighi was awesome! Smooth, witty, and articulate.
  • iCloud keychain isn’t new—MobileMe and (I believe) .Mac before it also synced your keychains between devices. Password auto-fill has existed in desktop Safari for some time.

Markdown, Images, and Drupal's Image Styles

Markdown editor for BUEditor

Generally speaking, there is no reason for me to use a WYSIWYG editor in Drupal when I’m using Markdown. Unfortunately, I needed an easy way to add images to my content as well, using a file browser/uploader.

Fortunately, the best image/file uploader and browser for Drupal is, in my opinion, IMCE.

Add CSS Classes to Images with Markdown in Drupal

Markdown

For some time I’ve been writing my blog posts here in Markdown and using the Markdown input filter module to process the text in Drupal. Recently, as I found myself updating some older posts, I needed to be able to add classes to links and images and wondered if there was some way to specify these in Markdown.