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Electronic Pillbox Helps Seniors Stick to Drug Regimens
Date:5/7/2008

Study found fewer doses were missed, more doses taken on time

WEDNESDAY, May 7 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults following a medication regimen are less likely to miss doses when reminded by an electronic pillbox that both beeps at the appointed drug-taking time and announces the number of pills to take and how to take them, new research reveals.

The study, which was funded by the National Institute on Aging, was presented recently at the American Geriatric Society meeting in Washington, D.C., by co-authors Vesta Brue, founder and chairman of Lifetechniques Inc., of San Antonio, and P. Ryder, of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Health Services Research division. Lifetechniques is the manufacturer of the particular electronic pillbox that was the focus of the research.

The interactive pillbox was given to a group of patients between the ages of 65 and 84 who were each following a prescription regimen of a least four medications.

All the patients were self-sufficient with respect to their ability to take their own medications and to move about freely. About one-third of the patients were men. About 38 percent were white, 40 percent were black, and 22 percent were Hispanic.

After three weeks to monitor natural pill-taking patterns, patients were tracked for three more weeks using "MedSignals" -- an electronic pillbox that is already commercially available.

The pillbox holds up to a month's supply of medications, with separate compartments for up to four drugs. As programmed, the box beeps at pill-taking times, indicates the appropriate compartment, and displays the number of pills to take on a screen. As well, when the compartment lid is lifted a programmed audio message announces the number of pills to take, along with specific information about how to ingest the particular medication.

All the boxes were rigged to record, time-stamp and transmit via phone l
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