Spotlight on Health | Smart pillbox can talk to patients, medical centers

According to the American Heart Association, the top problem in treating illness today is getting people to take their medication in the right way. About half of prescription drugs are not taken as prescribed, and in the United States it’s estimated that 10 percent (30 percent in the over-65 group) of all hospital admissions result from noncompliance.

This is a niche that new Israeli technology company Vaica aims to address with a programmable “smart” pillbox that can be filled by hand or preloaded at the pharmacy.

Vaica’s SimpleMed is a cloud-communicating device that can be programmed for seven days a week, at four intervals throughout the day. It sends flashing light and sound reminders when a pill needs to be taken, and if desired can alert primary caregivers or the Vaica call center when a pill is skipped. After a slot has been opened and the contents removed, the pill is registered as taken.

When paired with other Bluetooth-enabled devices such as glucose-, weight- or heart-rate monitors, SimpleMed can help manage healthcare from home, giving people extended levels of independence and an improved quality of life.

“Medication compliance is the center of healthcare management,” says Vaica CEO Gil Margalit.

“All of a patient’s vital signs can now be cross-referenced and compared to their medical records, letting doctors intervene before a patient’s health deteriorates,” he says.

The SmartMed screen can be programmed to deliver customized messages to patients in need of special reminders:  “Take me after a meal” or “with water” can be especially useful for people who might be taking five, 10 or 15 pills a day. The device can also be used as a two-way communication system to alert the call center of a medical emergency.

There are other automated pill dispensers on the market, but none as straightforward to use and as “connected,” asserts Margalit, who notes that the user can choose to have the Vaica call center manage all the details remotely.

Vaica’s platform has been chosen by McGill University in Canada to assure medical compliance in a six-center North American clinical trial on children’s kidney disease..

In one clinical study in Israel, compliance among chronic heart failure patients jumped from about 70 percent to more than 95 percent when SmartMed was introduced, according to Margalit. — israel 21c