Did You Take Your Meds: How Our Medication Tracking System Evolved

Published by Beth Campbell Duke on

medication tracking system

What is a Medication Tracking System?

Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be!

You may well have a medication tracking system in place. Maybe you don’t think about it as a tracking system.

Our medication tracking system has evolved as Tony’s medication regime became more complicated. In short, a medication tracking system allows you to reliably answer the question:

Did I take my meds?

Tony started with a simple 1-box per day weekly strip. We started it because he had a double-dosing incident with his pain meds. It was as simple as putting all of his daily meds into the one daily box. Because there weren’t too many meds, he could just look and figure out if he had taken his meds.

Reasons To Create A Medication Tracking System

A medication tracking system reduces medication errors – which include taking extra doses or missing doses. Your medication tracking system has to be easy to manage over the long-term. The goal is to make taking your meds regularly as easy as possible.

When Tony’s meds became more complicated, we needed a system that allowed either of us tojust look’ to answer the question. Our system also had to allow us to get out and about, so it also had to be portable. Carting a ziplock bag around with pill bottles just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

How We Created A Medication Tracking System

When we first started using the one box per day weekly strip, that fixed the main issue of having to open and close pill bottles multiple times per day. Plus, it’s easier to grab a pill strip and put it in a purse or pocket than a few pill bottles.

And as more of us are managing more chronic issues, we’re creating demand for products and services that help us with our own medication tracking systems – so there are many options now for organizing medications. We can customize our own medication tracking systems for our own situations.

It helps to think about what your own specific needs are when you start looking for solutions. Here are some of the options we’ve thought about and why we passed on them or decided to use them:

  • If you can get your meds blister packed by the pharmacy, that’s a great solution. The blister packs allow you or someone else to just look at the pills and determine whether you’ve taken them. Our system is similar to blister packing, but we passed on this option because Tony has multiple dispensing pharmacies, multiple ‘as needed’ meds as well as over-the-counter med requirements.
  • We recently saw an ad for an automatic pill dispenser that releases pre-loaded medications at specific times of the day. This wasn’t available a few years ago, and the unit doesn’t allow for portability. It depends on you being home when you need to take your pills. It does allow you to ‘just look‘ and is certainly helpful for people who need a reminder when it’s ‘pill time’.
  • Tony’s system is like the ones above, but we fill reusable pill ‘strips’ ourselves. Tony takes meds 4 times per day, so we have a weekly organizer with daily ‘strips’ that have 4 compartments (see below). The daily strips are removable so each day’s meds are portable. Tony also uses a medication tracking and reminder app that allows him to set a custom reminder song. He used to use it for keeping track of counts for re-ordering, but our pharmacy has an app and refill service that has taken over that function.

Our own medication tracking system uses a 4x/day pill strip.

    When you get into a groove with a good medication tracking system you’ll always be sure you’re getting the right meds at the right time. Click To Tweet

      When It’s Time To Refill Medications…

      I sit down with Tony’s medication list (that is kept updated in his patient binder) and work through filling the pill boxes. I make sure that:

      • I don’t miss any meds,
      • Meds that need refilling get refilled using our pharmacy’s app (super handy!). I used to make a list and call the pharmacy afterwards.
      • The medication list in the binder is still accurate. Sometimes there are medication changes that need updating – and you never know when you’ll need to hand over the list with no notice.

      If you’re looking for information on building your own patient binder, you can learn more here: BYOB: Build Your Own Binder.


      Building a patient binder and creating documents like a one-page medical summary and a medication list are also part of the online course ‘Learning the Ropes’. LEARN MORE HERE…

      When creating your own medication tracking system, what considerations do you take into account? Let us know in the comments below.

        Beth Campbell Duke

        Beth is a science educator and family caregiver for her husband, Tony, and her parents. She's busy developing programs and materials to help other patients and family caregivers navigate the healthcare system and tell their stories. Beth's biggest wish is to see the healthcare system incorporate 'trauma-informed care' into its workplaces to address the growing number of healthcare providers, patients and family caregivers experiencing primary and secondary trauma.