By Suzie Mitchell
How many times do you find yourself in waiting room of the doctor's office filling out forms that ask you for the list of medicines you take regularly?
If you are like me, you say to yourself, there's the cholesterol one, what's that called again? How many milligrams? It's pink, I know that. Then there is the three that make up the cocktail for migraine prevention...hmm. There's the little white one I take twice a day, and the capsule at night - I think that's 20 mg. And then comes the dreaded chart of non-prescription drugs, like vitamins and supplements...what's that new one I just started taking that's supposed to relieve hot flashes? Can't remember.
Sound familiar? This was me until I discovered MyMedicalApp. This terrific app stores all of your medical information on your iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch and Macs. If you don't have a Mac (I don't) you can enter the information on your PC and email it to your downloaded app on your iPhone or other Apple products.
It stores your emergency contacts, general information, medications, tests and procedure, allergies, immunizations, surgical procedures, injuries, hospitalizations, physicians, office visits, family history, health insurance, eyesight, advance directives and documents and photos you attach. It's password protected and can be backed up to your email.
It also allows you to have several profiles, so you can keep track of your spouse, children or aging parents.
Ever since I downloaded it for $2.99, I can't stop adding information to it. It's exhilarating to know I will have all of the information at my fingertips next time I'm in a physician's office. I don't have to worry about forgetting my lists at home. Mymedicalapp even has a place for questions for the doctor. You can log them in next to your upcoming appointment. So organized.
Being armed with this data is helpful because it cuts down on guesswork and incomplete forms, but more importantly, having the data available is a safety issue.
According to the National Center of Health Statistics, over the last 10 years, the percentage of Americans who took at least one prescription drug in the past month increased from 44% to 48%. The use of two or more drugs increased from 25% to 31%. The use of five or more drugs increased from 6% to 11%.
Among older Americans (aged 60 and over), more than 76% used two or more prescription drugs and 37% used five or more.
The report summarized the conundrum of older adults and prescription drugs by stating, "Finally, almost 40% of older Americans used five or more prescription drugs in the past month. This likely reflects the need to treat the many diseases that commonly occur in this age group; however, excessive prescribing or polypharmacy is also an acknowledged safety risk for older Americans, and a continuing challenge that may contribute to adverse drug events, medication compliance issues, and increased health care costs."
And this study didn't take into account the mixture of vitamins and supplements we frequently use.
There are more than 9,000 health apps available to consumers through the AppStore says, Brain Dolan, editor of MobiHealthNews. But so far this is the only one I've found that can store your personalized health information in a digital file cabinet.
Like so many other Boomers, I'm a reasonably healthy 57-year-old, who regularly exercises, is at target weight, but I still take a combination of 10-12 pills per day (including vitamins and supplements).
I'm also guilty of reading health and fitness magazines that have advertisements for natural supplements to "help you lose weight", "give you more energy" or ease arthritis pain. The trouble is, I often try these supplements, without writing them down and when I think I have a side effect or I'm feeling sluggish, I don't remember to tell the doctor about the natural products.
Not anymore-all of those meds-prescription and over the counter, natural and synthetic, are listed in MyMedicalApp on my phone, along with any side effects.
Now if they could just come up with an app to alleviate arthritis in my keyboard fingers....
Suzie Mitchell is a 25 year PR vet who specializes in marketing tech products to Baby Boomers. She is a professional journalist and public affairs and public relations consultant. She also is the co-author of the book Growing Into Grace: Adventures in Self Discovery through Writing. Follow her on Twitter here.
Photo via Flickr user liewcf.