SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — New technology promises to help patients remember to take their prescription drugs and will warn patients, doctors, even caretakers if doses are missed.

Donald Grossman takes medication for high blood pressure. But with no symptoms, Grossman admitted it can be tough to remember his daily dose.

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“Sometimes I say, ‘Did I really take it this morning?’” Grossman said.

Grossman now knows for sure because the cap on a high tech pill bottle won’t let him forget. It’s called the Glow Cap. It’s the world’s first wireless, internet connected pill bottle.

“It’s a tiny little processor, with a tiny little wireless chip,” said Mike Kuniavsky, who designs and writes about cutting edge, embedded computer technologies.

He tested an early version of the Glow Cap, to remind him to take his allergy medication. “I think actually it’s a really great system,” said the San Francisco entrepreneur.

Here’s how the Glow Cap works: Over the internet, by email or by phone, patients set up a dosing schedule. When it’s time to take medicine, a light goes on and the Glow Cap and a small wireless base station begins to pulse orange.

After a while, the cap starts to gently chime, until you open the bottle and take a pill. If that doesn’t work, it does a step further.

“If you haven’t opened it for a few hours, it will text message or send you an email or dial your home phone,” said David Rose, the CEO of Vitality, the maker of Glow Cap.

The device sends data wirelessly to a secure network.

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When a refill is needed, patients just press a button on the inside of the cap to contact the pharmacy.

Each week, patients, along with any designated doctor or family member, get a report.

“In the case of my Dad, he has to take a lot of different medicines. He forgets sometimes. It would be very valuable to me,” said Kuniavsky.

Technology such as the Glow Cap may become very valuable in cutting health care costs. Studies show how patients who don’t correctly take their medicine can boost medical spending by nearly $300 billion a year.

“On average, six months of being on medication, about half the people who receive the prescription are not taking it.”, said Dr. Arnold Milstein of Stanford University. Milstein is a professor of medicine and Director of the Stanford Clinical Excellence Research Center.

He said there are many factors that contribute to patients not taking their prescription drugs but forgetfulness is a big one.

Milstein said if you can help patients remember to take their medicine using inexpensive technology, it would be a very big opportunity to both improve health and to lower health care spending.

As for Glow Caps, the company is currently trying to work out a price for the device. It is available to some employees who use Express Scripts, but the system is not yet commercially available.

Grossman was involved in a trial, and asked if he could keep his.
“I think it’s a great idea. I mean I think it really helps me,” Grossman said.

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