New Technology for Pill Organizers Allows Wireless Remote Monitoring of Older Adults’ Medication Compliance

For older adults taking medication, compliance with a physician’s recommended schedule for taking medicine is important for the drugs to succeed and to avoid complications. However, it can be challenging to assess patients’ compliance with medication regimens, with physicians often depending on patients’ self-reports. Compounding these unreliable self-reports is the fact that health professionals often get this information long after any lapse in compliance may have occurred. In order to get a more reliable indicator of medication compliance, some technologies have been incorporated to directly measure drug use, by recording the time and date that a drug was removed from packaging or administered. However, these earlier technologies worked offline, resulting in a time delay between any noncompliance in taking medication and when this could be addressed by a physician or other health professional. In order to address the issues surrounding self-reports and offline technology that monitors medication compliance, a real-time wireless medication compliance monitoring system was developed.

Developed by a team of Japanese researchers, the system consists of a device that can detect and time-stamp the removal of medications from a calendar-type pill box. Originally an offline device, this device has been upgraded with the capability to wirelessly communicate with a server in the patient’s home, which then transmits compliance data to a remote medical server. The pill organizer used in this setup is based on the commercially available Weekly Dose Pack made by Twinlife, which contains 28 pockets which can hold multiple pills. A circuit board is attached to the pill organizer, and transmits the data when any of the pockets in the pill organizer is opened. Depending on patients’ needs, it can be configured for either four weeks of once-a-day packages or for each packet to be assigned to a different time of day, with up to four packets per day for one week. In the event that a notification of a packet being opened has not been received by a designated time, the medical server can send notifications of noncompliance to a medical professional, as well as send a reminder message by phone to a patient who has not taken a medication according to the prescribed schedule.

This automated wireless notification system allows for easy monitoring of patients’ medication usage, and offers the valuable benefit of quickly and automatically enabling any missed medication being promptly addressed and documented.

Source:

Hoshi K, Kawakami J, Aoki S, et al. Real-time wireless compliance monitoring system using calendar-type pill organizer. Technology and Health Care (2013); (21): 455–467.

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