Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Take your pills, please

This is Eran Shavelsky, CEO of MedMinder, holding his company's product. I think it is really interesting and wanted to share it with you. It is billed as an "intelligent pillbox system" and is designed to help patients be more likely to take their medications as prescribed. Scott Kirsner at the Boston Globe wrote about this last summer.

Then pillbox has an embedded cellular phone that can send reminders by phone call, text message, or email. It also has lights that blink and sound alerts that beep. You can program it to send reminders in any or all of these formats -- but not just to the patient. The reminders can also go to a trusted family member and/or the provider. These can be easily programmed on the company website. You load up a month's worth of medications, and on you go. Or, if you forget to load up the medicines, you can have an alert about that.

As an example, here's the simulated email it sent me:

This is an alert from MedMinder. You are receiving this alert because you are listed in the system as a patient or caregiver who should be notified of this event. The system reported the following event on 1/27/2010 12:17:45 PM (EST):

Reminder: The patient has not yet removed the Wednesday Noon medication cup.

Eran and his folks are in the midst of trials with physicians and patients with hypertension and also post-surgical patients who need protracted doses of medication. They are looking for other interested provider groups.


Michael Kirsch, M.D. said...

Cool gadget. It needs to be miniaturized. Looks like a muffin tin!

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree, in that lots of patients don't have the physical dexterity to deal with smaller containers.

Bernz said...

I don't represent either of these companies, but I feel I must mention the competition:

And alittle Boston thumbs-up: is based here.

Jeff Booth said...

Hopefully this will be expanded to chronic disease groups such as heart failure, where medication compliance is a known contributor to high readmx rates... certainly in the insurance companies' best interests to keep the patients from being readmitted... will they cover the cost?

Anonymous said...

I agree. I can see it being worth the cost (which Eran says is about $30 per month) for either the insurance company or for a multi-specialty pratice group that is being reimbursed on a capitated basis.

Anonymous said...

it seems like another unreimbursed 'chore' for the providers. i can only imagine the volume of calls the engineers thought would be nice 'add-on' features but in practice are a nightmare. from the provider side, i say no way.
it seems great for tech savvy family members though. i wonder what happens when changes are made mid stream to the medication regimen. who has the knowledge of which pills to pull out of the pillbox? if someone screws up with the initial placement into the boxes, that will be hard to detect.
it also looks like it is 4x7 meaning the day you have to fill these is going to change significantly over the course of the year.
i wonder what threshold number of pills is for that to make sense?
love the innovative spirit though.

BG said...

I wonder whether this might be useful in group homes for the severely mentally ill. They probably don't have the money, but computerizing those records could be very useful.

REKording said...

As someone who takes 18 pill a day, I am happy to see the large conainers. I would like to see this device combined with a pharmacy service that pre-packages your doses. One of the onerous chores of chronic pill taking is preparing the doses. It sounds easy, but it gets tiresome. Since pharmacists must count the pills anyway, packaging them into personal dose packs is a great value added service that could play well with this device, and might help the standarization of a machine readable package.

Just an idea. Wish I had the energy to pursue it.

Remie J. Smith said...

This is a great technical achievement and I wish them all the success with this. Medication compliance is such a significant problem costing lives and billions in unneeded hospital admissions each year. Just a word of caution, there are so many significant barriers to success. For instance:

• Who in the payers for the device and service?

• How much will the service cost?

• Who is legally able to load (repackage) the medications into the device?

• What happens when medications come from more than one pharmacy source?

• Is the labor required to maintain this solution economically viable?

• Are the containers childproof preventing accidental dosing?

All of these are all tough questions and there are a dozen more equally difficult. Whoever is successful in this area has to address all of these issues.