YARMOUTH, Maine – Getting patients to follow their medication regimen sometimes presents a huge challenge, with some experts placing nonadherence rates at 30%-60% and costs to the U.S. health care system in the billions.
Companies like Pillsy, AdhereTech and others are working to help reduce nonadherence through technology like smart pill bottles and bottle caps that track if and when medication is taken and much more.
“The doctor will tell you what medication to take and the pharmacist will give you the medication, but no one helps you stay in the habit of actually taking it,” said Jeff Lebrun, co-founder of Pillsy. “Technology can help people with that.”
Pillsy is a Bluetooth-enabled bottle cap that fits most standard prescription medication bottles. It knows when a patient opens and closes the cap, and it pairs with an app that sends reminders or alerts if the medication hasn’t been taken. Patients can check the app to see if they’ve already taken their medication, and they can choose to share their medication data with a professional caregiver or family member.
“Professional caregivers usually can’t be in the home 24/7, but technology can,” said Lebrun.
Adhere Tech makes a smart pill bottle that contains a series of sensors, using the same technology found in smart phones. The bottle knows if and when a patient has taken their medication and sends that data in real-time to the Adhere Tech system. If doses are missed, patients can receive customizable alerts and interventions.
Adhere Tech partners with pharma companies that sponsor programs that allow patients who are taking specialty medications to receive the smart bottle at no cost.
“The medication is only effective if the patient takes it,” said Josh Stein, CEO. “The pharma industry has realized it needs to go beyond the pill and is investing in products and services to help with the adherence problem.”
Companies like Pillsy and Adhere Tech plan to build on existing alerts and reminders by incorporating data analytics to create adherence intervention solutions.
“We’re just starting to make use of the data,” said Lebrun. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg.”