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