Elderly man puts pills into organizer

Medication Dispensers

Medication dispensers come in a variety of options from simple to high tech. Regardless of the style the purpose is the same: help people safely and correctly take their medications. According to the CDC, adverse drug events such as missed or improperly taken medications cause approximately 1.3 million emergency department visits and 350,000 hospitalizations each year. Using a medication dispenser is one way technology can help people be more independent while maintaining a high level of safety.

Below are different types of medication dispensers including both low- and high-tech options:

Pill Organizers: Most of us a familiar with simple pill organizers with compartments for dosages. You can find both daily and weekly options for these. These are easy to fill and open, and easy to track to see if someone missed any doses through the week. For some this low-tech, low-cost, off-the-shelf option is the perfect fit.

Reminder apps: For some people, they just need a reminder for when it’s time to take their medications. Using alarms or setting reminders on smartphones or tablets is one way to help people remember when it’s time to take medications. For others, dedicated apps may be helpful to provide reminders on when to take medications, refills, important information about drug interactions, instructions on how to take the medications, and can even alert a caregiver if a dosage is missed.

Electronic Dispensers: While low-tech pill organizers may work for some, others may need increased medication support. Electronic dispensers may be an option for these individuals, and are typically separated into two categories: non-monitored and monitored.

– Non-monitored medication dispensers are standalone devices that alert a user with sound and/or flashing lights to dosage times. These types of devices are typically circular with compartments for pills. The number of compartments vary based on the type of device but usually hold a week to a month of medication depending on an individual’s medication schedule. Most operate on battery power and are tamper resistant.

– Monitored medication dispensers have a companion app or web portal that allows loved ones or support staff to receive alerts related to missed medications or refill needs. These alerts allow remote support to an individual around their medication routine while giving them more independence. Some dispensers have capabilities beyond just medication administration and can be used as a virtual assistant with video chat features which can be great for check-ins. Monitored medication dispensers require an internet connection to be effective.

If you’re interested in learning more about some of these options, or want to try some of the high-tech options out before purchasing them, check out the Lending Library through TechOWL: https://techowlpa.org/library/