Put a ‘PillStation’ in the Patient’s Home to Improve Medication Adherence

New device links healthcare providers to patients for reminder notifications


The inability of patients to take meds as prescribed—medication adherence—continues to draw attention as a critical but solvable problem. As has been often reported (Pharmaceutical Commerce, March, p.1), nearly half of patients are go off their regimen after six months, even for serious, life-threatening conditions.

credit: Senticare

Pharmacos have responded with internal or outsourced reminder services, coupons, loyalty cards and other strategems, but everyone’s looking for better solutions. The latest entrant is SentiCare, Inc. (Southborough, MA), offering the PillStation (photo), a clock-radio-sized device that would reside at patients’ homes. The PillStation, besides providing a tray that organizes multiple meds or multiple dosages, can have connectivity to healthcare providers via a telephone line, a cellular modem or a USB port (linked to an online computer). Reminder calls can go out from the provider to the patient at scheduled times. The device also has a camera that verifies that the right meds are in the right tray slots for dispensing; up to a week of dosages could be organized, depending on how many pills a patient is prescribed.

Yogendrain Jain, CTO of SentiCare, says that the company has recently received another round of funding from its backers, and is about to embark on three separate trials, for antiretrovirals for HIV/AIDS, for post-acute coronary syndrome, and for antidepressives. Previous trials have shown compliance rates as high as 96.2% among older and elderly patients. The company plans to be fully commercial by mid-2011.

“The most likely customers of this technology are healthcare providers, physician networks or insurance companies,” says Jain. “Under new treatment guidelines from HHS, some providers may find that there is no reimbursement for avoidable hospital readmissions, for conditions such as congestive heart failure. They are going to need new, cost-effective ways to keep patients on therapy.”

Pharma industry support might be indirectly provided—or some pharmacos might find value in combining a therapy with the device. A nearer-term opportunity, says Jain, is in the execution of clinical trials, since the device has the capability to record when pills were removed from the tray. PC