Many loved ones take a confusing array of pills for various ailments. Taking the wrong medication, or even taking them at the wrong time, can have serious consequences. To remedy this problem, pill dispensers have been created with timers and alarms that can communicate with computers and cell phones. These dispensers allow a loved one to remain more independent, if difficulty managing prescriptions is the primary reason for their need of caregiving.
Engaget recently reviewed an interesting Internet-connected automated pill dispenser called MedMinder Maya. Maya was created to assist caregivers who need a way to remotely manage a loved one's medicines. It comes with a built-in SIM card that connects the device to MedMinder's website. This connection allows the caregiver to remotely manage the Maya's schedule and monitor when the pills have been removed in the correct dosage.
The Maya looks like a common pillbox with a removable cover that gives access to every slot. Once each tray is loaded with medication and the patient's schedule is set, the Maya lights up the appropriate compartment while also prompting the patient with an auditory cue similar to that of an office intercom—and, if you like, optional phone calls, text messages, and emails. The machine logs all tray activity, which a family member may check at any time, or the machine can summarize the activity and send it as a weekly email report.
MedMinder also offers a mail-order medication service, which centralizes your prescriptions at a single pharmacy for the cost of your pharmacy co-pay. The MedMinder pharmacy sends a prefilled tray, which slots easily into the Maya. The pharmacy checks the schedule against doctor's notes, flags any possible drug-to-drug interactions, and programs the patient's Maya with the correct schedule.
The Maya is a subscription service and currently costs $40 per month (the lockable version, called Jon, is $60 per month). There is no contract: Once you're finished with the device, you cancel your subscription and send everything back to MedMinder.