An Apple a Day: iOS 16 Medications Feature Provides Alerts, Logging, and Peace of Mind

Originally published at: An Apple a Day: iOS 16 Medications Feature Provides Alerts, Logging, and Peace of Mind - TidBITS

Apple quietly added a Medications section to the Health app in iOS 16 that lets you list all your medications, remind you when to take them, and log when you do.


Thanks Glenn - a great step-by-step description. I will see if it is available in Australia.
Update: this was my trigger for updating to iOS 16.0.2. My 2nd gen iPhone SE is still on 15.6.1. I knew about the 15.7 security update but have been travelling for weeks and didn’t get around to updating.
Now home and just tried to update to 16.0.2 BUT the iPhone wants to install 15.7. When I agree to this it reports that it failed to update.
I have checked Josh’s article on system requirements and my phone is suitable for iOS16…

Updated update! On a hunch I tried upgrading to iOS 16.0.2 using an iMac running iTunes/Mojave. After agreeing to upload an iTunes update it worked. Now running 16.0.2 and the Medication function is available in the Health app. Thanks again Glenn.


My thanks for this excellent and very helpful article. I have prescription and OTC meds that I must take every day, some in the morning, some at night, some only when necessary, and some are seasonal. I’m very glad that it looks like I can eliminate Reminders and the spiral bound notebooks I’ve been using for decades to keep track.

I never signed up for Medisafe or any other apps to manage medications because I am concerned about tracking and possibly having my data sold. I’m glad that this new Medications app is part of Apple Health, and that my info will live securely on my iPhone and iPad.

OK - the app works in Australia but some slight differences from Glenn’s description. It doesn’t seem to be aware of Australian medications and does not accept camera input (unless I missed something). So I had to type in the details. The UI is a bit irritating because I needed to swipe to the bottom of long pages to be able to click the NEXT button.
A neat feature under Medication Options is time zone changes. It notifies the user if a change is detected.
I agree with Glenn that a useful addition would be to introduce an optional end date/dose for short-term medications such as antibiotics.

I am not on any prescription medication, but I wonder if this feature would be even better if linked to a smart dispenser?

For whatever its worth, I used 2 other medication reminders, and now find Apple Medications to be more reliable and easier to use.

I am a diabetic and take medications for that (and other conditions) five times a day. Most are daily, but one is once a week.

The other apps I’ve used are from Walgreens (prescription reminder in their general app) and OneDrop.

The Apple app reminds me consistently on both my iPhone and Apple Watch. The other apps occasionally don’t remind me, or clicking on them on my Apple Watch sometimes doesn’t register in the actual app. So I’m happy with the new Apple medications feature of the health app.

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Love it so far, but here are a few quick improvements I’d make:

  • some meds are prescribed lets say, 3 or 4 times a day. Have a graphic “clock” with suggested but adjustable times for dosing would be helpful in ensuring compliance
  • some meds need to be tapered, ie 4x/day for 2 days, then 3x/day for 2 days, etc. There should be a calculator that will allow you to enter the tapering details and show the suggested times.
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Personally speaking, a smart dispenser wouldn’t fit in any of my handbags. Even if I could find one that I could squish in, there is a good chance it could dispense pills that wind up in the bottom of my bag. And it wouldn’t work with inhalers, eye drops, etc.

I have set up Due to do this for me on my iPhone / Watch. And it’s a reminder app which is excellent at being a pain in the ass to ignore, something which apparently I need. I’ll check this out but Glenn’s observation that it was gentler than regular Reminders has me doubtful.

Is there any way of exporting the log? Seems a pretty obvious thing to do, but I’ve yet to figure out how to that …

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Another neat feature would be to be able to set up alarms when a medication was not taken for more than X min — and send an alert to your ICE person.

Likewise, be able to set up alerts when medication was taken — and send that to your ICE contact.

(Two use cases of the IBM personal health toolkit back in 2005)

The same in New Zealand: all I can do is to type in a medication name and tap “Next”, then select from a list of medication types. The list of types I see is far shorter than the list in Glenn’s article.

Remember that this isn’t covered by HIPAA.

Not sure what that means. HealthKit data is end-to-end encrypted, so Apple can’t access it. Similar to passwords and other E2EE data.

Interesting. I looked up the format for the NDC coding and found this:

How is the NDC formatted?

The 10-digit NDC will be in one of the following configurations: 4-4-2, 5-3-2, or 5-4-1, meaning that there are 4 or 5 digits for the labeler code, 4 or 3 digits for the product code and 2 or 1 digit(s) for the package code.

So I went and pulled my prescriptions & an OTC bottle of a pain medication to check. The OTC has the proper format of “NDC” followed by the 10 digit code in one of the above configuration. HOWEVER, my prescriptions do NOT have anything in the mandated format on them! The closest is a barcode with 1 group of 10 digits below it. It looks like I’m going to have to call Express-Scripts and ask why they don’t have the proper NDC coding.

Well, Express- Scripts wasn’t that helpful saying they print the manufacturer’s name rather than the NDC. Then when they gave me the purported NDC for the medication, it was 11 digits rather than 10. Using the FDA’s search and trying different search terms, I found an NDC for the medication from that manufacturer but it did NOT match the one given me by the pharmacist!

Oh, I found a problem with setting up the Medications: the interval. Apple assumes fixed times using actual hours & minutes, but my prescription uses terms like “morning”, “evening”, “night”, “Take with food”, etc. I don’t eat breakfast, lunch, or supper at fixed times by the clock, so there needs to be settings of “morning”, “midday”, “evening”, “night”, and so on. My plastic weekly meds counter with daily “AM” & “PM” compartments will work better than Apple’s new “feature”.

I take a few meds regularly and so I tried the new Medications feature and like Glenn, I’d say it needs work. I’m Canadian and there is no camera option or database info provided. You can only add the information manually. I’ve been using an app called Pill Reminder for some time now and it works much better. Simpler interface and it also reminds me when it’s time to refill my meds as well as having the watch reminder. I’ll stick with it for now as I find the Apple Medication reminder feature a little “clunky”. Perhaps designed by someone that doesn’t actually take meds daily. Regardless, great article Glenn, thanks for the walk through!

Thanks for the recommendation for Pill Reminder. I’ve just searched the App Store and there are several with that name. Which do you use please? Jan

In the App Store it is called Pill Reminder - All in One. I started with the free version and ended up buying the full version. The current version is 5.0 and the developer website is
Hopefully this helps.

Having used Reminders for some years to help overcome my inability to remember life sustaining meds (ok, a bit of an exaggeration, but I really should not miss them), I was then screwed by Reminders on my iPad updating itself to a version incompatible with what is running on my main Mac (Pro, running Mojave) and no way back. So medication reminders have been a problem for some time and the news Apple were incorporating it into iOS was welcome news and I updated to iOS 16 ASAP.

However, like others have mentioned in this thread, for me there is NO camera icon to enable the use of the camera to assist with adding meds. and in my case basically no suggestions while typing either. After an aggravating few hours while I tried to figure out what was wrong, I gave up and just had to add all the meds. manually. No big thing I realise, but Apple have touted this as being such a terrific help and showing how we can simply use the camera to add meds. so being inexplicably unable to do that was, well, disappointing, to say the least.

It is now clear, from comments above, that there are several significant markets that are not allowed to have the assistance of the camera, nor smart meds. recognition. Apparently Canada and Australia and in my case, the UK. Probably others too.

I can accept that for one reason or another, it may have been impossible to incorporate such assistance in all markets, but what I find UNacceptable is that Apple make no mention of this lack and simply proclaim how great it is to be able to do this, while failing to mention that it is only possible in some parts of the world. Why can they not be upfront and honest about it and save us poor users from wasting valuable time trying to figure what we (or our Apple devices) are doing wrong.

That aside, the new Medications functionality certainly needs work. I saw mentioned elsewhere that a different meds. app provides a simple option to log having taken the meds. at the prescribed time and I think Apple need to incorporate that. Very rarely do I have an appropriate device at hand to log taking each medication, so usually I end up logging taking them at some time later. At which time I have to either faff about selecting the actual time they were taken, or accept that the log will be incorrect. A quick option (button) to log having taken them at the prescribed time would be invaluable.

Unlike others it would appear, I am finding notifications virtually non existent. As far as I can tell, I have it set up to notify me of everything, every time and persistently, yet only very occasionally do I ever see any such reminder. I want my Watch and/or iPhone/iPad to be very insistent, so that I don’t simply not notice and hence miss the meds (which I will surely do otherwise).

So, I think the new Medications feature is a much needed and potentially very useful addition, but as is so often the case these days, Apple must try harder.

I take one medication daily myself for a few years now and never forget about it. What I like about this are the occasional medications I take (right now, for example, I’m taking something for a cough a couple of times a day for the past few days.). When I talk to my Dr for my annual checkup now I can look back and remember when I was taking something like this, plus I can track when I am taking an anti inflammatory NSAID when my knee or back flares up, etc.