A US software development company is conducting research to see if using a "flashing orb" on a pill box could improve medication adherence among patients.

Partners Healthcare Telemedicine Group (PHTG) has appointed software developers Claricode Inc to test whether using a coloured flashing light on a Smart Pillbox, connected to a mobile phone network, would remind patients to take their medicine.

The ‘orb’ would be connected to a central server housing patient data, and will turn red when a patient’s medicine is overdue. It would only return to its green status when the medicine has been taken and the Smart Pillbox has sent a message to the server.  

A spokesperson for Claricode told E-Health Insider: "The central application is alerted through the cellphone network when the pill’s bottle cap is opened and then closed. The patient only has to know how to plug the globe into a power outlet and how to open and close a regular safety pill bottle cap.

"The Orb is an unobtrusive visual reminder and can greatly increase medical compliance and the quality of patient treatment without requiring input from a healthcare provider," said the spokesperson.

SIMPillThe orb is being provided by US technology firm, Ambient Devices, who have invested in the South African SIMpill solution (right), whose launch EHI reported on in January last year.

Ambient’s founder David Rose told EHI: "This innovative use of real-time feedback can result in changed patient behaviour, leading to improved adherence and health outcomes.

"With these partners we hope to offer the easiest way to help people remember to consistently take their important medications and avoid any unnecessary visits to the hospitals."  

The orb would be a new addition to the SIMpill technology which previously ran by sending text messages to patients and then family and clinical staff if there was still no response.

SIMpill creator Dr David Green welcomed the research: "If the research using orbs from the US proves successful, it would be a brilliant way for patients to know they have missed their medication without needing to get assistance from people close to them, and would make the SIMpill a much more efficient solution."

Rose added: "There are over 100 medications with over $1bn in revenues and compliance numbers below 50%. We believe that the combination of our Orb technology and the SIMpill technology will lead to this figure reaching the 95% mark, at least."

Non-compliance with prescribed medications leads to significant waste in health expenditure, unnecessary morbidity and mortality and, in chronic infectious diseases, drug resistance causing future treatment difficulties.

Partners Healthcare will be recruiting 70 patients to undertake the orb medicine adherence research for six months and hope to use its findings to secure funding to roll out the program more broadly.


SIMPill solution for missed drug doses