Future Pill Bottles Could Remind Patients to Take Meds
CREDIT: Prescription Bottle via Shutterstock
Future medicine bottles could determine if patients with depression have forgotten to take their medicine and remind them to do so, researchers say.
"People whose depression is being treated by primary care doctors often don't do very well, partly because patients don't take their medications and partly because the doctors don't follow up as frequently as they should to optimize the medication and dosage when necessary," said psychologist David Mohr at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. "This pill dispenser addresses both issues."
The electronic pill dispenser from South Africa-based Wisepill Technologies resembles a garage door opener, Mohr said. It sends out a cellphone signal whenever medication is taken.
"My understanding is that it lasts at least a month without a charge," Mohr said.
If patients forget to take their medication at the right time, it will send a text message reminder to their phones.
"There are a lot of services where people can get reminders to tell them when they need to take pills, but if people get a text message every day to take a pill at 9 in the morning, after a while it just becomes noise — people tune it out," Mohr said. "So we want to make sure that when we're contacting people, we have information useful to them at that moment instead."
Mohr and his colleagues are now working to connect their electronic pill dispenser with a system called MedLink that will include a mobile device app that monitors a patient's symptoms and the side effects of any medications. This data is then sent to the physician or health care provider with a recommendation, such as a change in the dose or drug if necessary.
"Antidepressants tend to need to be adjusted a few times before the right dose and the right medication is reached,” Mohr told InnovationNewsDaily. “So if, for instance, there's only a minimal drop in depression after four weeks, a physician can recommend an increased dose, or if there are substantial side effects, they can switch to another medication."
The MedLink system will also be used to help patients with schizophrenia and HIV.
"Medical adherence problems are almost universal," Mohr told InnovationNewsDaily. "Whether patients are on antihypertensives for blood pressure or antidepressants for depression, people have a hard time staying adherent to medication. We hope to help with that."