Medications only work if you take them as prescribed. The problem is, many people don’t. In a 2013 study [PDF] of more than 1000 U.S. adults 40 years and older taking prescription medications for chronic illnesses, 57 percent of respondents admitted to missing doses of their medication in the 12 months prior, and 30 percent said they sometimes forgot whether or not they took their pills.
Pillsy, a new smart pill bottle cap, is designed to help people be more consistent with their medication regimen, according to Mashable. The cap tracks when the bottle has been opened to monitor whether or not you’ve taken your meds. It comes in two versions, one for vitamins and one for prescription medications, which will fit most regular pharmacy pill bottles and over-the-counter vitamin bottles. (If the cap doesn't fit your bottle, Pillsy provides you with an extra one that you can pour your pills into so that you can use the cap.)
Using the Pillsy app on your phone, you can set a time to get reminders about taking your meds. At, say, 7 a.m., the Pillsy cap will start beeping, and you’ll get a phone notification (or a text or phone call, if you prefer). When you open the cap, the app will automatically mark your dose as taken, and if you try to open it again later that day, it will warn you that you’re double-dosing.
If you need to take your pills but don’t have them on you at the time, you can snooze the notifications, and the app will notify you again when it senses the bottle is in Bluetooth range.
Pillsy could be especially useful for medications that you need to take at the same time every day, such as birth control pills. It can also be used to keep track of someone else’s pills, such as an older relative’s—you can set the notifications to call you if they miss a dose, although that requires them to have a smartphone in their house.
But this isn’t the only device of its kind on the market. There are already cheap timer-based pill bottle caps you can buy at the pharmacy that will keep track of how long it’s been since you’ve last opened your pill bottle. (They cost $10 for a three-pack at CVS.) Another smart bottle called AdhereTech works in a similar way, although it’s marketed to healthcare professionals rather than consumers.
The main issue with Pillsy is that for $39, you only get one cap. That’s great if you’re only taking one medication, but if you need to take multiple medications over the course of the day, you’ll need multiple caps. For multiple medications, you’re probably better off going with a (pricey) automatic pill dispenser like Hero, which will dish out single doses of all of your pills at once.