Medication Tracking with PillDrill
My relationship with medications is, well, complicated. I have cycled through taking no daily medications, to taking more than a dozen. Add in the classic “brain fog” that comes with a chronic illness, multiple specialists prescribing medications, and a natural aversion to pharmaceuticals.. and well, it’s complicated.
Until recently, my medications were important but not critical. My medication scheduled could be adjusted, and I could miss doses without an issue. I attempted to follow a schedule with various pill boxes from the drug store; I even tried ordering my medications in individual packets so that I could easily see a missed dose. Neither method reminded me to take my medications, though, and neither allowed to track as needed medications. And while I tried to add alarms, on both my iPhone and Apple Watch, to make sure that I would take my medications but ultimately, I would turn them off, thinking “I will just finish this and then…” - only then, I’d forget.
Last Fall, though, I added an important medication to my daily schedule - one that I needed four times a day, at precise times, to be able to breathe well and to walk well. It was clear that my current system couldn’t support my adherence with the new medication and so I started my search for a better option. I found a few options with monthly fees and I even considered developing my own solution with the help of motion sensors.
Then, I found PillDrill.
PillDrill is a medication tracking system with five components - the PillDrill Hub, weekly pill strips, scanning tags, the Mood Cube, and a phone application. The system’s simplicity is part of what it makes it so attractive - it requires only power and wifi to work.
When a medication dose is due, as set in the PillDrill app, the hub produces both a visual and audio alert. To stop the alarm, the user must scan in their medication - helping to solve my problem of shutting off my phone alarm, only to forget my medication a moment later.
Medications can be scanned in two ways - a user can program their medication schedule to include the weekly pill strips, or the user can simply attach scanning tags of the medications. While the tags come with adhesive backing to stick onto each prescription bottle cap, PillDrill also sends elastics for those odd shaped medications (such as my inhalers) or OTC drugs which have lids that vary.
When a dose is scanned, the alarm stops sounding but the does is also logged within the PillDrill application. This allows a user to see when each medication was taken each day, and also allows the application to tally a score for adherence.
The application is also designed to work with as needed medications. Before, I lacked a clear understanding of just how many times I had taken my rescue inhaler in a month, or how long it had been since I needed a headache intervention medication. Now, that information is emailed to me each weekend.
And while the system might be called PillDrill, it's useful for tracking more than pills. I also use this system to track my rescue inhaler, my nebulizer treatments, my vitamins and supplements, and even certain essential oils - all in hoping of finding the pattern to feeling my best. I could also see the scannable tags being used for tracking a certain food that you think might be causing symptoms, or even exercise - why not put a tracking tag on the dog leash so that you can see how many days you actually got out and exercised this week?
In addition to scanning medications, users can also scan their mood with the Mood Cube - this can find patterns of feeling okay, good, or bad. In the future, I hope to see symptom cubes. While it might be difficult to include every option, I would love a “DIY” cube where the sides can be matched to symptoms within the app - similar to matching a lettered scanning tag with a medication. With a complex profile of illnesses, recording my mood is too non-specific and I don’t find myself using this feature.
While I don’t live alone, I love that this system helps Trevor to keep me even more accountable for my medication adherence. If I am away from the house, I will be alerted for a dose on my Apple Watch but if I fail to mark it as taken, Trevor often calls me as the alarm continues to sound at home. For those who do live alone, or far from family, PillDrill also supports sending text notifications to a family member - and without a monthly fee. I will soon be traveling for work and I love that even if I take my Hub with me, Trevor can be notified as to whether I've taken my medications- even from 2,000 miles away.
I waited nearly two months to review this product because , while I now know that the product’s price of $199 is worth the investment, I wanted to be sure before I recommended it to other’s balancing their own medical bills and expenses. While I’m a fan of tech solutions for problems, I often find that once the “newness” wears off, they are cast aside - that hasn’t been the case with PillDrill.
10/10, would recommend. But seriously.
As is, PillDrill meets my medication adherence needs and I have used it daily since receiving it but Trevor is looking forward to the upcoming addition to the system that will allow multiple users to share a PillDrill hub.
Need your own? You can order it from PillDrill directly - it comes with two pill containers per day, but additional strips are available for purchase - or from CVS.com.
If you have questions about the system and how it’s helping my day-to-day, let me know in the comments below. I’d also love to know how you’re currently tracking your medications, or struggling to do so. But, if you’re looking to learn more about the system over all, the How it Works section of the PillDrill website is a valuable resource.