Problem History & Market Analysis
Historically, the only solution to a patient not following medical advice for medications and medication taking schedules was to enlist the help of a family member, a medical professional or even a medical facility that could monitor and control when and which medications were taken by the patient. The success rate of such systems relied upon the competence and time dedication of the caregiver as well as the finances available to fund the appropriate amount of assistance for the patient.
The difference between our device and other devices is that our device is larger due to the way it the pills are arranged. However, instead of requiring the patient to flip the device over and maybe even shake the device to retrieve the pills, our product dispenses pills in a cup, which requires fewer fine motor skills from the patient. Also, our product will not be secured, which prevents complication if the device loses power or malfunctions. Finally, programming the device is straight forward with limited menus.
One example of an existing electronic Pillbox is the Med-Time Pillbox. It has 28 compartments in a disk-shaped rotating device that needs to be flipped over to retrieve the pills. According to epill.com, it is stated to be easy to program, yet there are few buttons and many menus involved in programming the device which can be confusing to the caregiver. The pill compartments are under lock and key which prevents the patient from taking the wrong pills at the wrong time, but can also create complications if the pills are not taken due to programming or power malfunctions. The device is the shape of a dinner plate and lightweight and thus portable. However, the device can be expensive at $395. (e-Pill, 2011).
Another example of an existing product is the CompuMed MD3 Tamper Proof Pill Dispenser. This device is stated to be the most tamper proof of all the electronic Pillboxes on the market. The device is locked and tamper proof to patients that are trying to reach their medication before the time allotted. It has 28 compartments and a drawer that the pills are dispensed into, which does not require the patient to use fine motor skills. It has an alarm system that will continue to sound until the pills are removed from the drawer. Skipped doses will accumulate, which may become an issue depending on the medication and how many doses are skipped. The device is easy to program and there are no batteries, but there is emergency backup power. The device is the size of a large shoebox, weighs 7 pounds, and has a retail price of $895 (e-Pill, 2011). The difference between our device and the CompuMed MD3 Tamper Proof Pill dispenser is that our device does not prevent the patient from accessing their pills at any time. Also, our pills will only dispense when prompted by the patient at the appropriate scheduled time preventing accumulated dosages. Our device will incorporate a backup power supply which, unlike the CompuMed MD3 Pill Dispenser, allows for our device to continue to work on small trips without being tethered to the wall. Lastly, just like the Med-Time Pillbox, the device has few buttons and requires menus when being programmed, which can be confusing. Our device will have a simpler programming model, which will make it easy to program.
e-Pill. (2011). e-Pill Automatic Pill Dispenser (Med-Time XL) & Organizer "Pill Box". Retrieved from Medication Reminders: http://www.epill.com/medtime.html
e-Pill. (2011). e-Pill Compumed MD3 Tamper Proof Pill Dispenser: Dispense up to 4 x per day. Retrieved from Medication Reminders: http://www.epill.com/compumed.html