Rethinking the Pill Bottle
The pill bottle may be in for some drastic changes in the near future, due in part to technological advances.
The pill bottle has been a mainstay item of pharmacy practice with relatively little changes in the past few decades. Other than transitioning from a glass container to a plastic one, the bottle has remained relatively the same.
Some companies have attempted to revamp the design in order to make the bottles more patient-friendly, and a common example has been Target's red bottle design that factors in patient inserts and color bands to identify bottles for particular family members.
Nonetheless, several companies have been attempting to revise the pill bottle for an age where technology seeks to connect everything together. One area of concentration has been updating the pill bottle to help patients with adherence to their medications.
Due in part to rapid developements in technology, reduction in cost, and wide interconnectivity to the Internet, the pill bottle has an opportunity to be revolutionized. Such innovations include incorporating bluetooth connections that can relay when the bottle is opened and weight sensors to detect when pills are removed.
Several companies that are currently developing sycg pill bottles include AdhereTech, GlowCaps, and PharmAssistant. These companies have already received sigificant funding and are conducting ongoing trials investigating clinical outcomes associated with the use of these devices in patient care. Other developers have started to crowdfund developement of smart pill boxes and have proved successful on Kickstarter.
However, several critisms have been raised. Cost is a concern and the integration of this technology may not be practical. As such, the adoption of these smart pill bottles may be limited to select patient groups. Other areas of concern are integration into the pharmacy workflow and patient education on the use of this new technology.
With that in mind, some alternatives to updating the pill bottle include cheaper or more novel creations. Some have considered the use of radio-frequency identification to help measure patient adherence by attaching chips to pill bottles that verify when patients are taking their medications.
Other drastic design changes have included removing the pill bottle and using a completely different approach. One recent Boston-based startup company, PillPack, has created easy-open pill packages that are batched together for different times of the day.
Overall, pill bottles have an oppurtunity to become very different in the near future. Pharmacists may find themselves using these bottles in place of the common amber-colored vials, and patients may be asking how to use them. The benefits of these changes may be a new way for pharmacists to assess patient medication adherence and help patients with their overall care.