Startup Incorporates Smartphone Tech Into Rx Bottles

Pharmacy TimesMay 2013 Skin & Eye Health
Volume 79
Issue 5

New technologically advanced pill bottles could be equipped with lights, sound, and other features to help improve medication adherence.

Will the traditional orange prescription bottle get a new, high-tech look that helps patients remember to take their medications?

Technology startup AdhereTech is integrating smartphone technology into prescription pill bottles, with the possibility of revolutionizing prescription regimens, according to an article published online March 25, 2013, in Wired. The redesigned bottles include lights, speakers, and other technologies aimed at improving medication adherence.

“We’ve built cellphone technology into the bottle,” Josh Stein, AdhereTech CEO, told Wired. “The bottle [will be] constantly connected to the cloud, just like a cell phone. Patients don’t have to link it to WiFi or Bluetooth. They don’t have to set it up in any way.”

According to Wired, the bottles’ walls use technology similar to that of a smartphone touchscreen. Once opened, the sensors embedded in the walls measure capacitance— stored charge, Wired explains— along those walls. Capacitance decreases when pills are removed because there are fewer contact points and less pressure along the bottle walls, the article notes. The sensors also measure humidity inside the bottle.

The bottles are equipped with 3G and LTE technology, allowing them to transmit adherence data to AdhereTech’s company servers via cellular network. Low signal strengths or lack of Internet connection should not hinder bottle operation either, because its 1-kilobyte readings should still be transmitted to servers, Stein told Wired.

A patient’s pharmacist supplies information within the servers, and a missed capacitance measurement would trigger a reminder alarm. The system is built to be customizable, so patients can opt for a phone call, text message, or e-mail reminder, opt to have the bottle chime or light up, or it can be set to send the alert to a physician or friend.

At the time of Wired’s publication, AdhereTech hoped to release prototype bottles by the end of April, having tested individual bottle components but not the whole system. It was also establishing contracts with a cloud service and a telecom provider, the article noted.

The plan is to test adherence rates at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Wake Forest University, and the University of Pennsylvania by comparing the AdhereTech bottles with “dumb” bottles with patients experiencing a variety of conditions and diseases. Assuming the tests go well, the AdhereTech bottles could hit the market in 2014, with the intent that pharmaceutical or insurance companies pay for the bottles, Wired stated.

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