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Medsmart: the new app helping us manage our healthcare

ByEllie Halliday

Nov 21, 2017

For many students living away from home for the first time, managing life skills as well as the rigours of study is an uphill challenge, especially now with deadlines and exams fast approaching.

Changing doctors, changing routines and managing health issues can be the cause of avoidable and ill-timed illness as well as missed learning opportunities for students.

YouGov research has revealed that more than 60 per cent of people in the UK take daily medication. The findings also reveal that 10 per cent of Scots are currently taking six or more types of prescription medication.

Management of this can create a daily complex task for many individuals. We all rely on apps to communicate with friends and family, organising taxis or takeaway food. Managing diaries and contacts on your smartphone is second nature. So why should there not be an app that can help you manage your health?

Talking Medicines, a Glasgow based start-up company, has created an app called Medsmart which does just that. Medsmart is a simple-to-use app which allows you to scan the barcodes on up to 12,500 UK prescriptions and over the counter medicines to get clear, up to date, and trustworthy content about how, when, and why to take your medicines.

Completely free to download and use, in both iOS and Android formats, Medsmart lets you build a ‘virtual medicine cabinet’, keeping all of your vital medicine information in one place, and to hand at any time. It would be great for that first trip to a new doctor or dentist, or if you need to let your sports coach know about any medicines that you may be taking.

The Medsmart app is available to all, and is particularly useful for keeping on top of allergy medication. Allergy UK estimate that four out of 10 people will experience symptoms associated with allergic reactions at some point in their lives. The Medsmart app helps students who may suffer from allergies by identifying ingredients in unfamiliar brands or non-branded medicines.

The app can also provide clarity about the content of medicines for individuals who may choose not to take drugs due to dietary requirements or religious reasons.

When you scan a new medicine, Medsmart will automatically tell you all of the ingredients in the database, and ask you to check the ingredients for anything you might not wish to take.

Handily, the app then learns your intolerances and preferences, so when you scan another medicine that contains those ingredients, you receive a notification telling you to check with your healthcare professional that this is the right drug for you.

This proactive approach to healthcare allows you to swap your drug for a more appropriate one, without another trip to the doctor’s.

The app also provides a ‘share’ button which allows you to send a snapshot of your medicine cabinet. This may be useful when passing medication information to someone else, for example when changing GP at university.

The Medsmart app allows you to create folders of medicines, just like personal folders for Netflix. This is particularly useful for student carers in organising the medicine for those they care for as well as managing their own health.

The National Union of Students (NUS) reports that a large number of students are carers. It can be hard for student carers to keep on top of their own healthcare as well as someone else’s, especially when juggling the added responsibilities of university life.

The app allows you to set reminders for all your medicines and your loved ones’ medicines. There is even a handy tracker which shows how well you, or those you care for, have stuck to their regimes.

For some medicines, there are evem handy videos showing you how the drug works in your body, as well as hints and tips on how to take medicines or use some medical devices, like inhalers.

Jo Halliday, CEO of Talking Medicines, said: “We’re really pleased to launch Medsmart to the public. People are using apps for everything nowadays, and as so many are on some kind of prescription medication it makes sense to use technology to help manage this.

“The app will help people manage medicines for themselves or for those they look after, making it easy to stay on track and ensure the full course of medication has been taken and in the correct way. 

“Patient information leaflets can often be lengthy and written in hard to understand language. Medsmart works alongside the leaflet to make this information more accessible and explains everything clearly and quickly”.

image: stevebp via pixabay

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