Researchers To Test Digital Pillbox To Improve Medication Adherence

May 19, 2015 in News

A startup company is teaming with Independence Blue Cross and Penn Medicine to launch a clinical trial that will test whether a digital pillbox helps improve patients’ medication adherence, Modern Healthcare reports.

Pillbox Details

TowerView Health has created a digital pillbox that tracks patients’ medication schedules and alerts the patients and their providers when medication is missed.

According to Modern Healthcare, patients’ prescribed medication is labeled by a mail-order pharmacy and delivered in a medication tray with directions and ingestion schedules as prescribed by the provider. The patients then must place the medication into the digital pillbox, which uses sensors to track when pills are removed from the tray’s compartments. If patients miss a dose, the pillbox uses connected software and cellular radio to send patients an alert, such as a text message, phone call or a visual reminder such as lightening up. The pillbox compiles data on patients’ missed doses for providers to review and follow up.

Reaction

Ron Brooks, senior medical director for clinical services at Independence Blue Cross, said he believes the pillbox marks an improvement over past medication adherence technologies. He said, “Most of the [applications] I’ve seen are reminder apps,” which “might remind [a patient] to take a medication,” but leaves patients responsible for actually “input[ting]” that they took the medications.

However, some experts argue that it is unclear whether technologies can help to bolster medication adherence. For example, patients could not be taking medications because of side effects or other problems.

DNAnexus CMO David Shaywitz said that in such cases improved medication adherence is “ultimately more likely to be achieved not by clever apps and wireless gadgets, but rather by an empathetic physician who understands, listens and is trusted by [their] patients” (Tahir, Modern Healthcare, 5/16).

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