Thinking outside the box: Using CareZone to track a pet’s health

Posted April 12, 2014 by Mary-Alice — Comments

I have over a dozen CareZones in my collection, and I have Jonathan, CareZone’s CEO, to thank for it: When he showed me the CareZone he’d created for his dog’s petsitters, a universe of possibilities opened up before me. I’ll tell you in future posts about my housesitter CareZone, my home maintenance CareZone, and my gardening journal CareZone — this post is about using CareZone to help care for your pet.

Our pup Chloe is young and healthy (touch wood!), but like many Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, she has runny eyes, which we’re trying to address with eye drops, every other day. She also gets dosed with Revolution, once a month. Medications list? Medication reminders? Check, and check!

She also has a short list of care providers and potential care providers, including her regular veterinarian, her canine ophthalmologist, the compounding pharmacy that makes her eyedrops, Seattle’s three 24-hour emergency veterinarians, and the nearby pet supply stores that carry her preferred food and treats. When we go on a trip, I figure out which emergency vet is closest to our destination, just in case. Contacts list? Check!

We use the Notes feature to store the number of her identification chip, and information about the chip and its provider. I’ve scanned Chloe’s current rabies vaccination certificate, shot record, and municipal pet license, and stored the scans in the Photos & Files section (if she had an eventful medical file, I would scan that too). I’ve also uploaded several good pictures of her, showing her distinctive, identifying bits (the width of her forehead blaze, the pattern of her fur). One or more of those documents might be vitally important while we’re traveling, and it’s great to have them available on my phone.

And, finally, we use the Journal feature to note and track what we call “Unexplained Yelps.” Cavaliers are practically perfect dogs, except that they’re prone, as a breed, to a dreadful ailment called “syringomyelia” — one symptom of which is yelping with discomfort for no apparent reason. To date, Chloe’s UYs have ultimately turned out to have a reason, thank goodness, but if she starts heading down the path I dread, a record of her symptoms as they manifest themselves and increase in frequency and severity would be invaluable to her vet.

One thing Chloe’s Journal doesn’t include is photos, but only because the need for them hasn’t arisen. Looking back over our pet-owning history, however, it’s easy to envision how photos would improve a Journal entry. The two cats I married, for example, each had ringworm at one never-to-be-forgotten point in our lives; if CareZone had existed then, their Journal entries would have included daily pictures of their lesions, so their vet could see how they responded to treatment. Similarly, my first dog, Lady, lost nearly half her hair before her vet got to “T” (for “thyroid deficiency”); it took a long time to return her to health, and periodic photos would have reassured us that progress was, in fact, happening.

Chloe generally travels with us, but we also have a CareZone for our cats, who remain home with a petsitter. Our petsitter is invited to be a helper on the cats’ CareZone, and while the cats are in her care, she has access to the important information she might need about them, including their Contacts, Notes, and Photos & Files. She posts daily updates in the cats’ Journal about their doings and outlook on life, and attaches photos of their cutest moments. Seeing our cats snoozing takes the guilt and regret out of traveling, and we like having a dedicated, private channel for our communications with their caregiver. Thanks, Jonathan!

New owl logo for CareZone!

Posted March 26, 2014 by Mary-Alice — Comments

Even though I knew a change was in the works, I was still surprised to see the new button for CareZone on my phone. The owl is so new it doesn’t yet have a name (if you think of a good one, leave a comment!), but it does have personality:

Owl icon

The old logo (a cheerfully-colored circle with its “corners” flipped inwards) was fine — you can still see it at the top of this page, and it’ll stick around for a while — but it says “competent” and “professional” more than “responsive” and “supportive.” We hope the CareZone Owl does a better job of projecting our identity, which is both accessible and professional.

Designing a logo that’ll work as an tiny app button is tricky to do — one pixel this way or that, and your owl projects an entirely different identity…. Our visual designer, Brittany Staten, now has a folder full of rejected owls, each looking shifty or dim or angry or sleepy. We think she’s hit upon the perfect owl with this version — please let us know what you think of it!

New medication reminders feature helps keep everyone on schedule

Posted February 17, 2014 by Mary-Alice — Comments

Like me, perhaps, you were already sold on CareZone’s Medications feature. You’d taken a few (really, a very few) minutes to add the names and dosages of your medications and supplements to the app, and you’d seen it pay off in dividends: extra time to spend with your doctors during routine appointments, and significantly more efficient care in emergencies (also, you really haven’t seen a human experience joy and relief until you’ve handed an EMT a current, legible list of medications!).

Now there’s a whole new reason to love the Medications feature — because now you can ask CareZone to remind you to take your medications. In fact, you can ask CareZone to remind you when your child, or your parent, or anyone else you’re worried about, should be taking one or more of their medications.

Here’s how it works: You sort your medications into time slots (CareZone provides four default slots, and gives you the option to edit those, or create more), and CareZone sends you, or any other helper, reminders at the times you’ve selected.

Here's what a sample notification looks like — they appear on the lock screen of your phone, so you can see them at a glance

Here’s what a sample notification looks like — they appear on the lock screen of your phone, so you can see them at a glance

As a nice side-effect, setting up a medication schedule creates a useful alternative view of the medication list — one that allows you or your doctor or other care provider to see at a glance when you take each medication over the course of your day or week.

Setting up reminders: The basics

Any helper for a CareZone can create or edit the medication reminder schedule, not just the person who set the CareZone up originally.

Open the CareZone app on your iPhone, select the CareZone you’re focusing on, and tap on “Medications.” You’ll see the phrase “No reminder” at the top of the list, indicating that none of your medications is yet scheduled for a reminder. You’ll also see an alarm clock icon in the upper right corner of the screen.

Yet again, Chloe the Dog is being used as an example

Tap on the alarm clock, and you’ll be taken to a “Medication Schedule” page that guides you through setting up your reminders, starting with a button to turn on iPhone notifications (slide the “switch” to the right if you want to receive the reminders).

In this view, I have turned on the notifications

Next, tell CareZone which time zone the person taking the medication is in: Your own timezone is selected by default, but if you’re editing a CareZone for someone else — your daughter, for example, who’s spending spring break with her dad — you’ll want to choose his timezone (remember to change it back when she returns home!).

The bottom half of the screen offers you four default choices for reminder times, and it’s no coincidence that they’re the ones you see on those plastic pill organizers sold at pharmacies everywhere — “morning,” “afternoon” (or lunch time), “evening” (or dinner time), and “bedtime” are the four most common times for dosages. CareZone’s Medications reminder feature is structured a lot like those pill organizers, in fact.

Tap on a dosage time and you’ll be taken to a page that lists all of your medications alphabetically. Here’s an example — as you can see, I’ve tapped on the “Morning” slot:

I've checked "Aspirin" and "Atorvastatin" (Chloe's a little concerned about her cholesterol), since they're morning meds

I’ve checked “Aspirin” and “Atorvastatin” (let’s just pretend that Chloe’s a little concerned about her cholesterol), indicating that they’re morning meds

Select the medications that you take at that dosage time, by tapping on their names, and then tap “Save” in the upper right corner of the screen.

Now choose another time slot (say, for example, “Bedtime”). You’ll be given the same alphabetical list of medications, so you can select “Aspirin” again, if your prescription directs you to take it when you get up and also as you prepare for bed. Select all the medications that you take at bedtime, and, as before, tap “Save” in the upper right corner of the screen.

Keep going until all of the medications are distributed into all of their prescribed time slots. (Or don’t: Of the fistful of medications and supplements your mom is taking, for example, you may only be worried about tracking a couple of crucial prescriptions — and if so, you can opt to receive reminders just for those two items.)

But what if your prescription directs you to take a medication at a time other than “Morning,” “Afternoon,” “Evening” or “Bedtime”? What if your morning begins at 6:00 AM, not 8:00 AM? What if you take two medications in the morning, but you want to distinguish between them (because, for example, one of them should be taken with food)? The CareZone team has made medication reminders a flexible, customizable tool, allowing you to edit, add, and delete as needed.

Beyond the basics: Editing, adding, and deleting

When I was setting up my own medication reminders, I added time slots and altered a couple of the defaults to match my prescriptions. Here’s how to customize the settings CareZone provides:

1. What if you need to add a new time slot? From time to time, alas, I’m told to take a painkiller every 4 hours. The default time slots will take me to lunchtime, but I need to add a couple of new time slots for my afternoon and evening doses.

If you haven’t already, add the medication to your Medications list. Now tap on the alarm clock icon. You’ll likely choose “Morning” as your first time slot, and “Afternoon” might also work, if you’re on a four-hour schedule. You’ll need additional, new slots for 4:00 PM and 8:00 PM, however. To create them, scroll down to the bottom of the list of default time slots and click on “Add a new time.”

This is the bottom half of the Medication Schedule page

This is the bottom half of the Medication Schedule page

You’ll be taken to a page that lets you name the new time slot (in this example, I’ve called it “4 pm”):

Using the keypad, I've just named this new time slot "4 pm," but I haven't yet set its time — it still shows the 10 am default time

Using the keypad, I’ve just named this new time slot “4 pm,” but I haven’t yet set its time — it still shows the 10 AM default time

The default time (10:00 AM) needs to be changed. Tap on the arrow next to “10 AM Every day” and you’ll be taken to a page that lets you change the reminder time (tap on “remind at” and select 4:00 PM, then tap the “Done” button):

I've just changed the default time by twirling the virtual dial to 4:00 PM; now I'll follow my own prompt and tap "Done"

I’ve just changed the default time by twirling the virtual dial to 4:00 PM; now I’ll follow my own prompt and tap “Done”

As you can see from the check marks, the default is a daily reminder. If you want to change that, tap on a day to remove the check mark (and turn off that day’s reminder):

Just to show you how it's done, I've turned off Monday

Just to show you what that looks like, I’ve turned off Monday

Finish by tapping “Save” in the upper right corner of the screen. Repeat to create your 8:00 PM time slot.

2. What if you need to change the time of a default time slot? That last example assumed that you could use a couple of the default time slots CareZone provides. But what if, for example, your “Morning” starts earlier (or later) than 8 am?

In that case, tap on the “Morning” option, and on the resulting page, tap on the phrase “8 AM Every day.” You’ll be taken to a page that lets you customize the “Morning” time slot, starting with the time itself: Tap on the phrase “remind at” and select a better time for you.

3. What if you need to change the name of a default time slot? For example, what if you take two different medications in the morning, and one of them must be taken with food? For you, “Morning” alone isn’t a good name for that time slot, and you need a second one, too, for your second medication.

You know now how to add a new time slot (this time, you’d call it something like “With breakfast”). But how do you change the name of the default “Morning” time slot? Tap on the “Morning” option, and on the next page tap on “name” — a blinking cursor will appear after the word “Morning,” and you can either use your back arrow or the “X” icon to delete “Morning” and type your alternative (“Before breakfast,” for example). Tap on the “Save” button once you’re done.

The arrow points to the cursor, which is waiting, blinking, for me to do something

The arrow points to the cursor, which is waiting, blinking, for me to do something

I've deleted "Morning" and I'm about to finish typing my preferred name, "Before breakfast"

I’ve deleted “Morning” and I’m about to finish typing my preferred name, “Before breakfast”

4. How do you edit an entry you made earlier? What if you decide to change things up, and start taking your fish oil in the morning rather than at night? To edit an existing entry, simply tap on it (which will take you to that medication’s “Info” page), then tap on “schedule” (next to the alarm clock) and choose a different time slot from the options you’ll see listed.

Those are the questions that arose, and the changes I made, when I was distributing my own medication list into time slots. If you think of others, and need a little guidance, please leave a comment! (Please note that I too would like to see an “every other day” option, and I’m told it’ll be in an upcoming version.)

Viewing medication lists and schedules, receiving notifications

Any helper can choose to receive medication reminders for a CareZone. Tap on “Medications,” then tap on the alarm clock icon. On the resulting page, toggle the “iPhone notifications” switch to the “on” position (as shown in the second screen shot in this post).

Once a medication reminder schedule has been created, the default view of a CareZone’s medication list shows the medications sorted into their time slots:

Medications shown sorted into their time slots; tap on "View" to see an alphabetical list

Medications shown sorted into their time slots; tap on “View” to see an alphabetical list

That’s a very nice feature in its own right, but what if you want to see a simple alphabetical list of medications? Tap on “View,” at the bottom of the screen, and select “Alphabetically.”

What if you live in New York, and the CareZone you’re looking at is for your sister in London? Using the “Basic set-up” instructions above, you’ve edited her Medication Schedule page to show her correct time zone (yay, you!), but you aren’t quite sure what effect that will have on the reminders you get. The answer is that everyone who gets a reminder will get it at the same time: If your sister gets her “Morning” reminder at 8:00 AM Greenwich Mean Time, you will simultaneously get the same reminder at 3:00 AM Eastern Standard Time (in some urgent care situations, you may want to hear that alert; if you prefer to sleep a little longer before calling to check on her, recall that you can create a “Do Not Disturb” sound block, using your iPhone’s general “Settings” button — when you do wake up and turn on your phone, CareZone’s medication reminder notification will be waiting on your lock screen, even though you muted the alarm).

I’ll leave you with one last tasty feature: Medication reminders are stored locally on your phone, so you will get them even if you are temporarily out of wireless range. You wouldn’t want to stay off the grid forever — for one thing, you’ll want to sign in to the app so you can make changes to the medication schedule, or learn about the changes another helper makes — but it’s reassuring to know that you’ll get your reminders even during the quieter parts of your cross-country road trip.

New notifications feature keeps you in the loop on CareZone Family updates

Posted September 10, 2013 by Mary-Alice — Comments

Our goal at CareZone is to help you get — and keep — a grip on all the to-dos and must-remembers that go along with caring for someone. CareZone Family’s newest feature makes it much easier for you, and everyone helping you, to stay current with the latest changes and updates in your loved one’s status and needs.

Now, whenever a change is made in your loved one’s profile, an entry will be made in the app’s Notification Center — and you’ll know there’s news because a red badge will appear on the CareZone Family app’s icon. Please note that changes you make yourself will not show up there — you made them, so you already know about them. We want to improve your life, not clutter it, so you’ll only get notified when someone else on your team makes a change.

If you already have the app open, a red badge will appear over the icon for the Notification Center:

In a better world, where I take screenshots more carefully, this number would also be “1,” to match the number of notifications in the previous picture. Trust me, at one point they did match.

If the change or update is extra-important, we will also send you a “push notification” (that is, a note that shows up even on your iPhone or iPad’s lock screen — you’re probably already getting them when someone sends you a text message). What counts as important? Things that would make you say “why didn’t you tell me?” — like the addition of a new helper, a new Journal entry or comment, a new to-do item, or a new medication.

Showing you the lower half of my iPhone screen

Showing you the lower half of my iPhone screen

When you tap “slide to view,” you’ll be taken to see that notification’s details, including who posted it, and (in this case) who it’s assigned to:

When you’re done admiring how your spouse has added another item to your to-do list, tap the “Notifications” button at the top of the screen to get back to your Notification Center. Here’s part of a typical one (well, it’s mine, anyway):

Some bits blotted out to protect the innocent ;)

Some bits blotted out to protect the innocent ;)

Tapping the “Done” button in the upper right corner brings you back to your main CareZone menu.

We think it’ll take a weight off your shoulders to know that all changes to a profile are now being noticed and shared automatically with the rest of your caring team. We’ve given you a central place where you can see a list of those changes, when you choose to, and when you have time to — and we’re keeping you advised of big changes with push notifications, so you don’t have to worry that they’re buried in that list somewhere.

We will keep sending you e-mail messages, as we have been doing all along, to let you know when someone is added as a helper, when someone writes a Journal entry, or when someone posts a comment on a Journal entry. Those events are very important indeed, and we want to make sure you get word of them.

If you want to turn off your e-mail messages, by the way, or change which ones you’re getting, go to, sign in, and click on “Your Settings” (under your name, in the upper right corner of the screen). Here’s the page you’ll see:

Be sure to scroll down and “Save Changes” when you’re done.

Please let us know what you think of this new feature, and whether it’s helping you out as much as we think it will! The best way is in a customer support email — as always, we’d love to hear from you.