Monday, October 8, 2012

Smart pill bottle helps patients adhere to drug regime

Patient compliance to medication is an important topic, because it is known that a rather significant percentage is not very strict with the drug regime laid down by their physicians. Naturally, it is possible to forget to take your pill, especially if you take them daily, but some patients downright refuse to adhere to the medication schedule. Luckily the latter group is quite small. In order to tackle the problem of adherence, a company known as AdhereTech developed a pill bottle that automatically checks whether medication is being taken. And it even has the capability to send the data to the doctors through a cellular network.

While it looks like an ordinary pill bottle, the thing developed by AdhereTech is actually packed with technological features. Its walls contain sensors that are similar to those used in touchscreens on smartphones, which enables accurate measurement of the amount of drug that is left in the bottle. It also packs a 3G modem, in order to transmit data to doctors, family or even friends; depending on the patient's preference. The pill bottle contains a battery to keep the technology running.

The information from the bottle can be matched with the medication that a patient is on. When there is a mismatch between the amount of drug in the bottle and what the patient should have taken, it is possible to send a notification, probably to the user's phone. That way, the system helps patients not to forget to take their drugs. In addition, the system helps scientists study medication adherence; usually this is done by checking pharmacy records for refills, but this is an ineffective way of measuring adherence. Additionally  a patient's own report on adherence can, naturally, not be trusted.

Because billions of euros are wasted each year due to non-compliance, it is important to improve patients' adherence to medication. Technological attempts ought to improve the compliance rate: AdhereTech is not the only one with technology-equipment materials for drug administration: there are several tools available that help patients track their medicine use. Because AdherenceTech has all kinds of cool stuff hidden in a pill bottle, such attempts should become even more effective. Another recent attempt to integrate technology and medicine was the release of an application that helps identify drugs with by means of a user's smartphone.

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