This smart cap won’t let you forget to take your medicine
We take a lot of drugs. We also forget to take a lot of drugs.
According to a 2011 study by The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) “nearly 75 percent of adults are nonadherent in one or more ways, such as not filling a new prescription or taking less than the dose recommended by the physician.”
Remembering to take critical medications can be difficult, especially when they’re new to your routine (maybe a new heart or ADD medication) or temporary (antibiotics).
The trillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry is also, increasingly, a favorite target for startups, with many of them trying to help consumers manage all the drugs they take.
Pillsy is one of those companies.
Unlike some of the more complex pill-management systems like PillDrill and Hero, Pillsy has just two pieces: A smart cap that can fit on any standard pill vial or bottle and an app.
Setup with the iOS App is easy (there’s an Android version, too). As long as your phone’s Bluetooth is turned on, the cap and app pair the moment you unscrew the cap. After registering, there were just a few steps to find the medicine (I chose my allergy meds, Zyrtec), set a time to take them and let Pillsy notify me via a special beep from the cap and notifications on my phone.
“On average, people only take 50% of medicine,” said Pillsy Co-Founder and CEO Jeff LeBrun.
After spending time working on some early wearable and even some pharmaceutical-related products, LeBrun decided to solve one of the simpler problems and one that truly needs a solution: making sure people take the right amount of medication at the right time.
At the core of Pillsy is the smart cap (it will come in standard and child-proof varieties). It’s Bluetooth connected and knows when it’s screwed on or off the pill bottle. It communicates with the Pillsy app, where you enter pill type, dosage and how the medicine is prescribed (daily, hourly, twice-a-day). Pillsy has access to the full FDA database, which means you can look up virtually any medication.
Once that information is in the app and the medicine in in a bottle with the Pillsy cap, the app and bottle (with a blinking light and sound) can remind you when to take the medicine. It can also help you avoid mistakes like accidentally taking the same medication twice: As soon as you open the bottle, you’ll see a message on your phone: “You already took that.”
Similarly, Pillsy isn’t trying to ensure you get the right medication by physically dispensing it via robot, like Hero. While the Pillsy cap can blink its tiny light and emit a notification alarm when it’s time to take your medication, most of Pillsy’s intelligence — monitoring, management and notification — happens, on the app. Pillsy is in talks with third-party companies like Amazon about bringing Pillsy notifications to Amazon Alexa.
The caps will come in multiple colors if you like to color-code your medication bottles and each cap runs on a watch battery that should last up to a year. You will get a notification when it’s time to change the battery.
Pillsy could also help those who manage the healthcare needs of someone else. They could let their parent or grandparent take their own pills, while keeping track of their medication activities on the app.
Unlike digital drug-dispensing competitor PillDrill, Pillsy isn’t really designed for a pill regimen, where you have a collection of pills you take each day. LeBrun, told me Pillsy is designed for people who take fewer than seven pills a day, which could be a lot of people. According to the Mayo Clinic, at least half of Americans take two prescriptions and 20 percent of Americans are taking at least five prescription drugs a day. In fact, I would be a good Pillsy candidate. I take four pills a day, three of which are vitamins. I only struggle remembering what to take when I’m on antibiotics, which I was twice this year. One smart cap could be the perfect way to keep me on track.
Pillsy’s somewhat boiled down solution to meds management also means a far lower price than competitors. Each cap costs $39, with better pricing for bundles. They’ll go on sale on the Pillsy web site and Amazon on Tuesday.