Electronic Pill Box Proves to Be Good Medicine

Updated: The Med-eMonitor electronic pill box reminds patients when to take medicine and alerts doctors if a patient stops taking medication.

Two health companies have teamed up to distribute an electronic pill box that does much more than help patients organize their medicine.

The Med-eMonitor, made by Informedix Holding Companies Inc. and co-branded with McKesson Bioservices, reminds patients when to take medicine and makes patient-specific inquiries about health measures like blood glucose levels, side effects or just general well-being.

The device sends this information to a secure Web server, where practitioners monitoring a patients care can see the information and intervene quickly if the patient stops taking medicine or reports ill-effects.

The Web server also updates the device with new alerts, like upcoming doctor visits or changes in dosages.

Dawn Velligan directs the division of schizophrenia-related disorders at the University of Health Science Center and is testing the device in a small clinical trial of schizophrenia patients. She receives consulting fees from Informedix.

/zimages/2/28571.gifPhysicians praise handheld computers. Click here to read more.

One reason why medications for chronic diseases dont work is that patients forget to take them or take them at the wrong time.

This is particularly an issue for patients with schizophrenia; less than half take their antipsychotic medications as directed, and those who dont are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized, Velligan said.

Preliminary results from the trial are both striking and statistically significant.

Before the study, said Velligan, patients were taking medications as directed only about 50 percent of the time. With Med-eMonitor, adherence rose to 94 percent. Patients could also lead more independent lives. One patient who needed her parents help to take pills was able to do so on her own using this device.

Velligan said the device also helps clinicians make better decisions about patient care.

Patients often dont realize how frequently they forget to take their medicine or are unwilling to tell a doctor they havent adhered to a treatment program.

So when doctors see suffering patients, she said, "they dont know whether to change medication or get them to take their medication."

Bruce Kehr, CEO of Informedix, said he came up with the idea for a smart pill box when his grandmother became ill.

"In her 90s, she lived alone but kept getting hospitalized. No one could make a diagnosis. We finally traced it back to her confusing medication," he said.

But Kehrs grandmother hated having paid caretakers and grandchildren visit her daily to monitor her care, and that spawned the idea for the Med-eMonitor.

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