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Washington DC Feb 15-19.

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Is This the Future of Medication Management?

Folks are thinking about how to help seniors remember their to take their medication-- but have they got it right?  Clearly, there's a problem, with a 700% increase in deaths from medication errors at home, and of course the risk from not complying with prescription guidance and frequency has escalated risk of complications and hospitalizations. And vendors are ready to help --  there is a full hierarchy of offerings out there to help folks manage their medication, ranging from plastic boxes to full system dispensers.

At the AARP convention I was interested to see a new offering (January, 2008) for AutoPills, a pill dispenser that not only permits loading of  pills, loading up to 15 pills per dispensing time and loading up to a week at a time, but also offers warnings if medications are not taken at the expected time. The target market includes both facilities and home use. An innovative Las Vegas entrepreneur, Allen Burggraf, has been developing the product for the past 10 years and has launched the product line, listing at $900, but qualifying (state-by-state) for insurance reimbursement for home-bound individuals. Certainly the fact that 20% of individuals are taking 4 or more drugs makes a compelling case for a product like this.

But like many technologies designed for home use, the benefit depends on awareness. Should vendors of technologies like this target insurance companies? Seniors who take the medications? Home care workers? Geriatric care managers? Doctors?

My view -- prescribing doctors or nurse practitioners are in the center of markets for products like these -- if they don't prescribe the device in addition to the medications, they are leaving compliance to chance. And the statistics about those chances are worrisome. Not to mention -- at first glance, this might be a tough user interface.

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