As the coronavirus pandemic raged on from 2019 to 2021, the medical community devoted all its resources to combat it. However, another pandemic that rarely made headlines was growing just as fast — polypharmacy and drug prescription misuse. Polypharmacy refers to the concurrent use of multiple drugs, typically more than five. Drug prescription misuse is self-explanatory. The numbers are truly alarming: between 10% and 99% of adults across different age groups are engaged in them — one or both. Fortunately, this problem could be solved by developing and implementing medication tracking software. It’s a novel component of a broader medication management and tracking system.
Medication Tracking: What It Is?
Medication management is a strategy designed and implemented to ensure the timely and proper intake of medicines. In many cases, “medication management” and “medication tracking” are used as synonyms; however, the latter is more of a technical procedure within the wider medication management.
Medication management and medication tracking software have a range of benefits for all stakeholders involved — physicians and nurses, hospital management, patients and their relatives, and society at large.
The 2022 research on the automation of hospital drug dispensing systems revealed a clear impact of the significant reduction in error in the dispensing phase and a decline in the numbers of returned items, breakages, and loss of medications. The same research also noted a positive reaction from all categories of users, from patients to their relatives and caregivers to physicians.
Types of Medication Tracking Software
Depending on the end-users and purpose, there are two main types of medical tracking software:
Pill Intake Reminder & Control App: This type of software is designed for patients who need to take medications regularly. It helps them remember when and how to take their pills and alerts them in case of missed doses, overdoses, or interactions. It can also track their medication adherence and health outcomes, and share the data with their caregivers or healthcare providers.
Medication Dispense Tracking System (Drug Inventory Tracking Software): This type of software is designed for pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics that need to manage their medication supply and distribution. It helps them monitor the inventory levels, expiration dates, and dispensing records of their drugs. It can also generate reports and alerts for inventory optimization, compliance, and safety.
It also comes in various types and forms, including the following:
Wearables Synchronization: It allows you to sync your wearable devices, such as smartwatches or fitness trackers, with your software. You can monitor your medication intake and get alerts and notifications on your wrist.
Internet of Things Applications: They use the Internet of Things (IoT) technology to connect your smart devices, such as pill dispensers, sensors, or cameras, with your software. You can get reminders to take your pills at the right time, check if you have taken them correctly, and share your medication data with your doctor or caregiver.
Dispensing Platforms for Patients: They provide a convenient way to manage your medications, especially if you have multiple prescriptions or complex regimens. Dispensing platforms can help you order, refill, and deliver your medications to your doorstep, as well as provide you with personalized packaging, labeling, and instructions.
Benefits for Patients and Their Families
Some of these more than understandable benefits are:
- Better Adherence: One of the main benefits is improving medication adherence, which means taking medications as prescribed by the doctor or instructed by the pharmacist. It’s important for several reasons:
to help control chronic conditions and prevent complications or worsening of symptoms;
to treat temporary conditions, such as infections, pain, or allergies, and speed up recovery or relief;
to prevent or reduce the risk of serious health problems;
to control overdosing — sometimes elderly (especially) people forget that they already took a pill and take one more. This can be dangerous and lead to serious consequences;
to save time and money by avoiding unnecessary hospitalizations, emergency visits, or additional treatments.
Taking pills at a certain time and frequency is important because it ensures that the medication reaches and maintains the optimal level in the body to achieve the desired effect. If the medication is taken too early, too late, too often, or too rarely, it can reduce its effectiveness or cause side effects or toxicity.
Improved Communication: Medication tracking software can improve communication between patients and their healthcare providers, as well as among family members and caregivers. Patients can share their medication data, such as intake history, side effects, or allergies, with their doctors and nurses, and get feedback and advice. Family members and caregivers can also access the medication data and communicate with the healthcare providers if authorized by the patient.
Increased Safety: Medication management software can assist patients to prevent or reduce medication errors and adverse drug reactions, which can be harmful or even fatal. It can alert patients if they are taking the wrong medication, the wrong dose, or at the wrong time. They can also warn patients if they are allergic to a medication, or if a medication might interact with another medication, food, or supplement.
Time and Money Saving: It can save time and money by eliminating the need to make multiple trips to the pharmacy, or the doctor’s office for prescription renewals. Many medication management software offers convenient features, such as online ordering, home delivery, and personalized packaging. Some of it also helps patients find the best prices for their medications, or offer discounts or coupons.
Ease of Use: Medication tracking software is designed to be simple and user-friendly for all age groups, regardless of their technical skills or literacy. The icons are self-explanatory, and the interface is minimal and not overloaded with extras. The medication management software is also relatively lightweight, meaning that they do not take up much space on the phone or require a fast Internet connection. Ease of use can help patients use the medication management software without any difficulty or frustration, and enjoy the benefits they offer.
Benefits for Healthcare Staff and Hospital Administration
Medication tracking software not only helps patients manage their medications, but also provides benefits for doctors, nurses, and hospital administration. Some of these benefits are:
Data Analytics on Vitals: Besides the standard medication-related component, many medication-tracking solutions offer additional features, such as tracking sugar levels, blood pressure, weight loss, etc. These other features, in many cases, serve as the warning system for detecting early signs of a new disease, wrong medication intake, etc.
Minimization of Conflicting Prescriptions: Medication tracking software typically contains comprehensive information on previously and currently taken medications and existing allergies. The system will send alerts if the physician prescribes a drug that might conflict with other medicines. Tracking minimizes the possibility of human error to the very minimum (remember that nearly all doctors are overworking these days).
Comprehensive and Shareable System of Records: Patients switch healthcare providers constantly. They may get a better medical insurance plan with a new employer, move for family or work reasons, or look for a second opinion on their case. Having the entire history of medical and medication records in one place helps newly assigned doctors understand the whole picture. And thus make the right choice in the prescription of new medicines.
Must-have Features of the Right Medication Tracker
Some of the essential features that a medication tracker should have are:
HIPAA Compliance: Both the tracker app itself and the third-party integrations it is using must be HIPAA compliant. It ensures that the medication tracker app follows the standards and rules for handling and sharing health data and that it protects the user’s rights and interests.
Synchronization Across Several Mobile Devices: It helps relatives and the consulting physician ensure the patient takes all medications as scheduled. The system would also send alerts to the physician, nearest clinic, or next of kin in an emergency. This way, the user can access and update their medication data from any device, and share it with their family members and healthcare providers, if needed. Synchronization can help users stay on top of their medication regimen and get timely support and assistance in case of any problems or emergencies.
The Records System Allows at Least 2-3 Years of History: The impacts of pharma on our bodies are always long-term. We might be changing the third doctor, and the chemical trace from the medication prescribed by the first one is still in our bodies. Having a detailed library of medical records for several years might save one’s life. The records system allows the medication tracker app to store and retrieve the user's medication history for at least 2-3 years. This way, the user can review and analyze their medication intake over time, and see how it affects their health and well-being. The records system can also help the user provide their new doctors with their complete and accurate medication history, which can help them make better and safer decisions for the user's treatment and care.
Commenting/Notes Feature Built-in: This tiny feature is helpful for the doctor and the patients. To be taken with or after food? How many times a day? Where is the nearest pharmacy selling this? Side effects to watch — all this goes into the Comments section. The commenting/notes feature allows the user to add and edit notes or comments to their medication data, such as instructions, reminders, questions, or feedback. This way, the user can keep track of important details and information about their medications, and communicate them with their doctors and nurses.
Availability of a Free Trial Period: Positive reviews, YouTube tutorials, and physician recommendations are helpful, but give it a test drive yourself. The app must be intuitive and convenient for a user from Day 1. Remember that improper use of the app — in this particular case — might lead to medication misuse. And this is one of those mistakes that nobody wants to make. The availability of a free trial period allows the user to try out the medication tracker app for a limited time, usually a few days or weeks, before deciding to purchase or subscribe to it. This way, the user can experience the app's features and functionalities, and see if it meets their needs and expectations.
Sync with other health devices: Finally, the tracker should sync with other health devices, such as fitness watches, to provide a more comprehensive overview of the user’s health. This way, the user can get a more holistic and complete picture of their health status and progress, and see how their medications affect their health indicators.
Medication tracking software is an answer to polypharmacy and drug prescription misuse, which affects millions of people worldwide. It can provide various benefits for both users and healthcare providers. However, creating it requires careful consideration of some key features, such as HIPAA compliance, synchronization, records system, etc. By accurately developing medication tracking software, you can offer a powerful and innovative solution for the health and well-being of your customers.
What is medication tracking software, and how does it work?
Medication tracking software is a type of software that helps users manage their medication intake, schedule, and inventory. It can also provide useful features such as reminders, reports, side effects, and vital signs monitoring. It allows users to create and modify their medication routines, scan QR codes on medication packages, and sync data with caregivers or healthcare providers.
How can medication tracking software help patients in managing their medications?
Medication tracking software can help patients manage their medications by:
Sending reminders and notifications to take the right dose at the right time.
Providing useful information about the medications, such as side effects, interactions, and instructions.
Sharing the medication intake data with caregivers or healthcare providers for better monitoring and feedback.
Can medication tracking software integrate with electronic health records (EHR) systems?
Yes, medication tracking software can integrate with electronic health records (EHR) systems to provide better patient care and medication management. EHR integration allows medication tracking software to:
Access and update patient information, such as medical history, allergies, and current medication.
Send and receive electronic prescriptions to and from pharmacies, reducing errors and improving medication adherence.
Communicate and collaborate with other healthcare providers, such as doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.
Generate and analyze reports on medication intake, outcomes, and costs.
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