The best (free) medical app: track all your meds with no effort, no typing, no cost!

I was truly humbled by the response to my previous blog.  I feel safe in saying we could build a castle out of the pill bottles donated from everyone’s generosity.

While the outpouring was heart warming, I’ll admit it also paralyzed me a little to post again.  I sincerely doubt all those so graciously now following my blog, share my same health conditions so would they care about anything I might talk about? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized, it was proof that so much about health is universal, regardless of diagnosis.

If you’re like me, the pill bottles you’re now donating, weren’t just filled with vitamins to try to live longer.  You are fighting pain, inflammation, your own immune system, you are in a hard core fight and that quest for health can easily be a full time job.
Maybe, like me, you found yourself keeping the empty pill bottles as a way to remember all the crucial data on that little white sticker: who gave you what, when, where, for how long, how many refills… change meds even a few times a year and it’s near impossible to keep it all straight.  My closet was a pill bottle graveyard filled with information I feared throwing away.  Determined to finally clear the ghosts (& the space!) I decided to start writing all the key information off the pill bottle labels and keep them in a file.

After bottle #3 I gave up, shocked and frustrated at how long it took.  I went on a quest to find an app to do all the work for me.  I hate most medical apps, I find them way more work or cost than they are worth.  This app would have to be *free and it would have to truly make this easy for me or the pill ghosts could just continue to haunt those drawers.  It took a lot of trial and error but I finally found a solution – that actually works!

CareZone does the work for you & charges nothing!

(Note: so there’s no confusion, the app is free. I get nothing if anyone uses these links to load the app, I am just trying to make it easier for anyone that’s interested)

CareZone for Android
CareZone for Iphone

1. With CareZone, you simply take the camera on your smart phone or laptop and snap a few pics of the pill bottle (or box) label.  Start at one side, take a pic, rotate, take another pic, rotate, until you’ve gone all the way around the label.Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 4.26.58 AM
2. Review the pics.
Satisfied?  Is picture #3 redundant or too blurry? Just delete it.
You didn’t get a clear pic of the side effect sticker on top? Add another pic to the file
3. Then hit submit
The photo is sent through recognition software, it takes the text in the photo and converts it into real editable, text in predetermined fields for clarity.
You will be notified when your information has been added into a file in your account.

What’s added? Everything!

*the name of the drug
* generic name
* strength & frequency of the dose
* Doctor’s name and phone number
* pharmacy name and number
* any warning information on the bottle/box
* number of refills
* when the drug expires
~ you name it, it’s added!

What else can the app do:

CareZone App

CareZone App

* remind you to take the meds you entered ( it will pull it right off the pill bottle & create the reminder for you!)
(note: all reminders can be set or turned off easily)
* remind you to reorder the meds
* add notes about anything you want
* create other profiles so you can keep track of what your Mom takes or kids take in case you ever need to tell a Doctor
* keep allergy lists
* current medication list
* want to keep information on a medication you’re not currently taking? Just click “inactive” and it will archive the info for you (I use this one a lot!)

I can’t count how many times I have had to list the meds I am on, what I am allergic to, reference what drug a specific Doctor gave me a year ago, what the dose was that did or didn’t help me on a medication I was taking 3 years ago… it’s impossible to keep it all straight and even more impossible to access it in a 6 inch medical file in the 60 seconds a Doctor gives you to answer the questions.  This app has changed that for me and better yet, I now have another huge pile of pill bottles that no longer need to haunt my shelves “just in case” and can be donated!


Empty Pill Bottles Desperately Needed (Take your meds & help others!)

Pill bottles: they are those translucent orange soldiers that pile up all around us… in our drawers, bags, cabinets… sometimes I wonder – if I had saved every empty pill bottle since I got sick, what would that look like?
Mountains of Pill Bottles
One of the things I have always hated the most about being sick, is you often need more help than you can give.  That’s not always true, but there are definitely days or weeks like that for even the most functioning among us.  I see those specials on tv and think: I want to build a Habitat for Humanity house or dig wells in Africa (this might be a late night, insomnia induced thought but the general sentiment still stands).

Neither of those will be happening in my lifetime, but that’s okay.  There really are other things we can do, all of us, to help other people no matter how sick we are.  Here’s one idea that only requires a bit of energy…

“Medicine Bottles for Malawi” is a project with an idea so simple, it’s brilliant. I’ve tried this myself so I can vouch for how easy it is to do and how good it feels to pass on something you know will help others.

Imagine you’ve walked miles to a remote village or hospital to receive any form of medical care you can find.  You are given the medication you desperately needed and now you have to start the journey back home.  You don’t shake the pill bottle maraca as you walk because there is no pill bottle, heck there’s barely medicine.  The pills you received are wrapped in a tiny scrap of newspaper.

A scrap of newspaper is all the protection your precious cargo has. The more I thought about this, the more I realized it’s a bigger problem than it sounds like: no safe way to carry the meds home when you are most likely walking miles, no way to really protect the meds from moisture, loss, damage once you get them home.  Apparently those orange bottles do more than you think and so can you…

How to Help:Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 2.43.33 AM

Step 1:
Take your meds and when you finish the bottle, don’t throw it away!  This includes bottles you might receive over the counter like for Advil, Motrin, vitamin bottles, supplements – as long as the bottles aren’t large, send them on! (Large bottles just cost too much to ship).
Donate Pill Bottles
Step 2:
Remove the label.
I find it’s easiest just to peel them off, takes a few seconds, but you can also save up until you have a pile of the bottles and dump them into a bowl of boiling hot water.

Step 3: Snail Mail
Send them off!
I used a large flat manila envelope, it’s cheap & easy to mail.

Address it to:

The Malawi Project, Inc.
3314 Van Tassel Drive
Indianapolis, IN

Tip: Take a photo of that ^ address on your phone & save it as a contact!  When you have enough bottles to send off, you won’t have to log back in here to find the address.  I do this often and it definitely saves some energy to take photos of info. 

Bonus Benefit:
I saw someone online arguing that we shouldn’t send them to Malawi because they won’t be recycled when they are finished being used.  I thought this question was silly since they are so desperately needed there but I like the answer all the same:  Nothing goes to waste in Malawi.  Your medicine bottle, when it’s empty, will be used in 100 other ways.  Imagine you have very little and then think of all the ways a bottle with a sealed lid could be helpful.

The medicine bottles we don’t need or want anymore, that probably lie around in drawers reminding us we need that medicine to begin with, to someone else, it’s a gift.  What better way to use a little bit of energy and send them on!