A public focus group has responded positively to a smart pill bottle, Pill Connect, developed by eLucid mHealth to prompt patients to take their medications on time. Pill Connect also allows both trial investigators and doctors to effectively monitor medication and provide novel insights into adherence.
The focus group, run by Research for the Future, was made up of seven volunteers aged over 50 years. The participants took part in a roundtable discussion on medicine management, followed by a demonstration and hands-on session with the Pill Connect bottle and app. In the final roundtable discussion, all participants said that the Pill Connect system was simple to use and that it was easy to remember how to use it.
Other feedback from the participants included:
86% said they would like to use Pill Connect in clinical trials or with high-value drugs.
Most felt that Pill Connect would be most useful for critical drugs/conditions, e.g. immunosuppressants.
86% felt that the bottle’s auto-dispensing feature would help them to remember their correct drug dosage.
These positive results suggest that the Pill Connect system would be attractive to patients taking part in clinical trials, as well as patients taking critical medications in a clinical setting. Patients with chronic diseases are particularly vulnerable to poor health outcomes if they do not adhere to their medications. Mortality rates for patients with diabetes and heart disease who don’t adhere are nearly twice as high as for those who do adhere.
Figures from the OECD estimate poor adherence contributes to nearly 200 000 premature deaths in Europe per year, with an estimated cost of $105 billion per year in avoidable hospitalisations, emergency care, and outpatient visits.
Elucid has already conducted two clinical robustness trials on the Pill Connect system, and is in discussions with several top tier Pharmas, CROs, CMOs, and the NHS, all of whom all keen to find effective ways to monitor patient adherence in real time.
How the Pill Connect system works
Preparation– A patient has an app loaded onto their mobile phone (iPhone or android) which contains the pill regime – eg twice a day. Is trained how to use the app – 20 minutes – and given a Pill Connect bottle loaded with pills.
Patient use-The patient receives a reminder to take a pill via the app at a pre-determined time. The patient responds to the reminder and a pill is dispensed and the data sent to a control centre.
Side effects – If the patient is unwell or believes that they are suffering from a side effect to the medication they have the option to not take the pill and tell the investigator why.
Non – adherence/not wanting to take pill– If the patient does not respond or has a reason why they can’t take the medication, a text or call can be made automatically or manually to prompt adherence or find out the reason for refusal.
Comprehensive data– The doctor or administrator has comprehensive data on each patients dispensing pattern.
Safety – The bottle is locked outside the prescribed times to prevent double dosing.
The Pill Connect dispenser mechanism and electronics are designed to fit onto a standard pill bottle which is easily filled or refilled by a pharmacist. The capacity of the pill bottle will depend upon the pill size but will have a minimum of thirty pills. The dispensing mechanism can be adjusted to handle pills or capsules of different sizes.