Types of pill management systems
The humble pill box is available in many sizes with compartments to sort and store your meds by the time of day, day of the week, and even by month.
Pill boxes are simple to use and offer more convenience than sorting through prescription bottles They’re also travel-friendly; all you have to do is pop them in a bag with all the meds you’ll need during your time away from home.2
Using a pill box still requires manual pill-sorting and administering. Each compartment only stores a limited number of meds at a time, which also results in frequent refills. Pill boxes also present a challenge for patients with physical or cognitive impairments, from those struggling with memory issues to patients with weak grip strength.
Plus, a pill box cannot always protect meds from exposure to moisture and light, which may affect medications’ effectiveness.2,3
Lastly, pill boxes cannot help you track if you or your loved one took their medications on time.
Low-tech pill organizers
Low-tech pill management systems come with simple alarms with lights and beeps as reminders.4
Pill organizers with alarms can nudge users to take their meds, and they offer some relief for people who worry about reminding loved ones to take their medications at the right time.5,6 They also tend to be portable and convenient for people managing a smaller number of pills.4
Patients with hearing or visual impairment may not be able to hear or see these reminders. Reminders may also switch off automatically if ignored for too long, which may impact adherence if that dose is forgotten about.
What’s more, users still have the burden of setting alarms and keeping track of what meds were taken and when, which can be challenging for older adults and busy caregivers.8
Medication management apps
Medication management apps deliver alerts to one’s cell phone to remind them to take their meds. While many of these apps are standalone products, they are more effective when paired with an electronic medication dispensing system.10
Apps provide recurring alerts and notifications about dosage times, a great tool for those managing multiple meds, or just patients who are easily forgetful.5,6
Apps also offer 24/7 connection between patients and their caregivers, giving everyone involved more peace of mind that medication reminders are being sent on a regular basis.
While standalone apps offer round-the-clock alerts and reminders, they have no way of tracking whether a medication was actually taken. As such, using an app can still be unreliable and prone to errors which, in the case of lifesaving drugs, can be dangerous.10 When selecting an app, consider using one that connects to an automatic medication dispenser.
Automatic medication dispensers
Medication dispensers are the most advanced pill management systems on the market. While they come in many shapes and sizes, they can all be pre-loaded with meds and programmed to dispense the right dose at the right time. Many of them can drop pills into a cup, making it convenient for patients who may have had trouble removing individual pills from prescription bottles or pill boxes.
Automatic pill dispensers connected to a remote monitoring app can offer a lower risk of errors by tracking the number of pills dispensed and sending notifications about skipped or late doses.11
Dispensers, better: meet Hero!
Advanced medication adherence systems like Hero offer hassle-free, at-home medication management with a smart, supportive ecosystem of care.
Hero includes a sleek smart medication dispenser that:
- Stores up to a 90-day supply of 10 different medications
- Automatically sorts and dispenses the right pills at the right time
- Tracks medication dispensing through customized adherence reports
- Sends real-time alerts, reminders, missed-dose, and low-pill notifications to patients, caregivers, through the Hero app
- Integrates with AdhereRx to offer automatic refills with free delivery
1. Bloomberg. (2019. May 8). Nearly One in Two Americans Takes Prescription Drugs. Bloomberg. Retrieved from: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-08/nearly-one-in-two-americans-takes-prescription-drugs-survey?msclkid=b2593f52b35c11ecaedf454ca2bf811f
2. Basaraba, S. (2020, March 21). Pillboxes and Medication Safety. Verywell Health. Retrieved from: https://www.verywellhealth.com/pillboxes-and-drug-safety-2224150
3. Pollard, A. (2021, October 28). Here are the best pill organizers to keep track of all your medications. Verywell Health. Retrieved from: https://www.verywellhealth.com/best-pill-organizers-4158598
4. Top 10 best pill box with alarms of 2022 – review and buying guide. (n.d.). Aidsquilt.Org. Retrieved from: https://www.aidsquilt.org/best-pill-box-with-alarms/?msclkid=acf03f58b58311ec8a2102ec37762abd
5. Satish, S., Harshitha, J., & AR, S. (2021). Interventions to Enhance Medication Adherence in Hypertensive Patients: A Systematic Review. International journal of Research and Review, 454-463. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Satish-S/publication/353175131_Interventions_to_Enhance_Medication_Adherence_in_Hypertensive_Patients_A_Systematic_Review/links/60ebe3eb1c28af345861d3c3/Interventions-to-Enhance-Medication-Adherence-in-Hypertensive-Patients-A-Systematic-Review.pdf
6. Alexan, A. I., Osan, A. R., & Oniga, S. (2013). Advanced Medication Dispenser. Carpathian Journal of Electronic and Computer Engineering, 6(2), 26. https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.429.847&rep=rep1&type=pdf
7. Pollard, A. (2022, March 28). The Best Pill Organizers to Keep Track of All Your Medications. Verywell Health. Retrieved from: https://www.verywellhealth.com/best-pill-organizers-4158598
8. Faisal, S., Ivo, J., & Patel, T. (2021). A review of features and characteristics of smart medication adherence products. Canadian Pharmacists Journal/Revue des Pharmaciens du Canada, 154(5), 312-323. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/17151635211034198
9. Haase, J., Farris, K. B., & Dorsch, M. P. (2017). Mobile applications to improve medication adherence. Telemedicine and e-Health, 23(2), 75-79. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27248315/
10. Aggarwal, B., Pender, A., Mosca, L., & Mochari-Greenberger, H. (2015). Factors associated with medication adherence among heart failure patients and their caregivers. Journal of nursing education and practice, 5(3), 22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4307014/