Smart Pill Technology Improves Patient Adherence

Do you often find yourself asking a loved one “did you remember to take your medicines today?” Maybe it even slipped your mind to take that daily medication prescribed by your own physician.

Forgetfulness is usually the reason why we neglect to take necessary medications. More often than not, however, patients with chronic illnesses who are on a large regimen of pills find it difficult to keep track of their medications. Others just get caught up in the hustle and bustle of their hectic schedules and innocently forget their required doses.

Thanks to digital technology, patient adherence with medications is improving. Products such as Vitality’s GlowCap, MedMinder, and MediSafe utilize innovative methods to remind patients when it’s time to take their pills. The GlowCap which was launched in 2009, uses a “smart” pill cap that communicates with information entered by the patient online. When it is time to take the pill, the cap glows and plays a melody. MedMinder, on the other hand, contains trays for multiple medications and sends phone call reminders, text messages, or email reminders. Even remote caregivers can be notified when the trays have not been opened on time. Perhaps the most innovative reminding solution comes from the MediSafe Project which uses a cloud-based app to remind patients on their smartphones when to take their pills. The app uses a series of graduated reminders that become increasingly difficult to ignore. Should those go unnoticed, the app will notify a spouse or other family member that the patient has not responded to their reminders.

Other medication adherence solutions were presented at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. GeckoCap, geared to children on inhalation medication for asthma, uses a smart cap and app to track inhaler use. It also gamifies the process to keep the kids engaged so they keep up with their medication schedule. uBox, a smart pillbox, communicates through an app and uses calendars and schedules to track doses. It also can notify family members about missed doses. Proteus Digital Health has even developed smart pills that are used in conjunction with an adhesive patch that can act ually track and report the pills are actually being taken. Through the collection of metrics that the pill can track, Proteus Chief Products Officer David O’Reilly believes that this type of system can allow patients to directly understand the direct benefits of taking their medications.

Another issue that can be addressed through this technology is that of medications originating from different providers. Since many unpleasant side effects can occur with the mixing of certain medicines, many patients will stop taking them. With improved communication systems, mobile solutions, and apps, these problems can be better addressed.

With the continued development of smart pills as well as better communication between providers and patients, compliancy and adherence will no doubt improve. This can result in decreased return hospital and physician encounters which will lessen the burden on our already strained health care system. Developments such as this and more will be a theme at our 5th Annual ePatient Connections conference coming up this September, which will be co-located with our Patient Adherence and Advocacy Forum. We hope you take part in the conversation and the many developments in this area.

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