With so much going on with people’s lives today they tend to forget one of the most important tasks they must do, taking their daily medication on time.
Missing a schedule, or compensating and overdosing, are a real problem especially among the senior population. It is estimated that medication noncompliance among seniors could be as high as 75%. Seniors who have serious medical conditions, need to adhere to a strict medication regime in order to keep it under control.
Automated pill dispensers can prove an effective device that can assist patients in taking their medication on time, in the correct doses.
In this article, we will cover what to look out for when choosing a smart pill dispenser. We will also review some of the best automated pill dispensers that can help with your medication management allowing you to have peace of mind and have one less worry.
Best Automated Pill Dispensers Comparison Chart
Here’s a handy reference list of our reviewed automated pill dispensers. Further below is a more comprehensive comparison and review guide.
|LiveFine Pill Dispenser||Hero Pill Dispenser||MedaCube Pill Dispenser||Philips Medication Dispenser||Livi PharmRight Automatic Pill Dispenser|
|Day’s Supply||Up to 28 days||Up to 90 days||Up to 90 days||Up to 40 days||Up to 90 days|
|Max Daily Dose||Up to 6X/day||Up to 10X/day||Up to 12X/day (expandable to 16)||Up to 6X/day||Up to 24X/day|
|Type of Alerts||Audio, visual||Audio, visual, phone notifications (call, text)||Audio, visual, email, phone notifications (call, text)||Audio, visual||Audio, visual, text message, email|
|WiFi Enabled||No||Yes||Yes||No (must be connected to landline)||Uses cellular network|
|Remote Monitoring||No||Missed doses, refill reminders||Missed doses, refill reminders||Missed doses, refill reminders||Missed doses|
|Lockable||Yes (key)||Yes (key & Pin code)||Yes (key & Pin code)||Allows access to medication only during prescribed times||Yes (key)|
|Power Source||Battery (4xAA)||Mains powered||Mains powered & battery (24-hour backup)||Mains powered & battery (18-hour backup)||Mains powered & battery (8-hour backup)|
|Upfront Cost||Check Price||$99.99||Check Price||$0 ($99 installation fee (optional))||$130 (shipping & setup fee)|
|More Info||Find Out More||Find Out More||Find Out More||Find Out More||Find Out More|
What is an Automated Pill Dispenser?
Automated pill dispensers also known as smart pill dispensers are electronic programmable devices that automatically dispense pills at set times throughout the day. These devices have several compartments that can store a week’s or up to a few month’s supply of different pills.
To use the device, the user or caregiver loads the different compartments with the prescribed pills. It is then programmed to dispense the necessary pills and dosage at the corresponding times throughout the day. At the pre-set times, the device will dispense the correct dose of the medication and it will alert the patient by either emitting an audible or visual alert reminding them they need to take their pills.
Some automated pill dispensers will even notify the user’s loved one or caregiver by text, or by a phone call if they fail to take their pills after a pre-set time. This allows them to check up on the patient to ensure that they have taken the prescribed medication at the correct times.
Automated pill dispensers are ideally suited for users with long-term health conditions, or for anyone suffering from cognitive impairments, such as those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, who need to take medication regularly and may struggle to remember when to take them.
What are the Benefits of Automated Pill Dispensers?
For people with health ailments, their medication, and when to take it is absolutely vital.
Forgetting to take your medication, taking the wrong pills or dosage are all too common problems, especially if a person has a long-term medical condition, and may also suffer from a cognitive impairment.
Not adhering to a correct medication regime can be particularly dangerous. It is estimated that the extent of medical noncompliance in the elderly population may be as high as 75%.
Skipping pills can have a negative impact on the user’s health and on some occasions, it can lead to hospitalization. Taking pills in the wrong order can have adverse interactions with other medications, and taking the wrong dosages can lead to a possible overdose. If the user, for example, skips taking their blood pressure tablets, it could cause the person to feel light-headed and confused which could increase the risk of falls.
It is therefore important that the user ensures that they take their medication at the correct times, in the correct order. While traditional pillboxes can prove useful, they rely on the person remembering when they need to take their pills. This can often be a struggle, especially if they need to take several different types of pills throughout the day in different dosages.
Automated pill dispensers eliminate this problem by automatically prompting the user when they need to take their next pills, throughout the day. The pills are dispensed at the correct times, in the right dosages, so there’s never any confusion as to what they need to take next. The built-in alarm play’s continuously until the person has taken their medication from the dispenser. This ensures they never forget to take it and brings peace of mind.
Automated pill dispensers are also particularly suited for those with visual impairments or for anyone with limited finger dexterity. Trying to read the small print on the side of a pill bottle or trying to recognize the right pills to take can be a struggle for those with poor eyesight. While users with arthritic hands may find it difficult trying to unscrew a cap on a pill bottle. With an automated pill dispenser, the user does not need to worry about these issues, as the pills are dispensed automatically.
Some automated pill dispensers are also able to send texts or emails, and will provide alerts when medications are running low, thus ensuring vital medication never runs out. Depending on the device, some devices will also alert family members, when the patient has not taken their medication. This allows the family one less problem to overcome in the caring of their relative.
Automated Pill Dispenser Buyer's Guide
Automated pill dispensers come in a wide range of different styles and designs to suit all needs and budgets.
Before deciding on the best automated pill dispenser for your particular needs, we would recommend that you first consider the following factors:
If you require an automated pill dispenser that you can easily take with you when you go on vacation or when you stay with family, we would recommend opting for a portable battery-operated model. These are lightweight and small enough to fit in a bag allowing you to take vital medication when you’re not at home.
If on the other hand, you just need a pill dispenser to use at home, opt for a larger smart pill dispense. These are normally the size of a small coffee machine and can hold more pills and usually come with more features.
An important factor to consider is the alarm on the pill dispenser. Some devices have a choice of audible and visual alerts while others are limited to one type of alarm.
The alarm on the device should easily be recognizable and loud enough so that it can be heard by the user. If the user has a hearing impairment, opt for a model where the volume intensity can be adjusted to suit their particular needs. If the user is deaf, opt for a device that prompts them to take their medication using visual cues.
Loud persistent noises can be particularly disturbing for those suffering with dementia. Some automated pill dispensers offer the ability to play a pre-recorded alarm such as the voice of a family member. This may prove less distressing and will be more reassuring than a loud alarm.
Depending on the particular pill dispenser, the alarm may sound continuously until the user has taken the pill, or may just sound for a specific period of time. If the user is particularly forgetful, opt for one that will sound continuously, to ensure the patient does not forget to take their medication.
You also need to consider what the dispenser’s pill capacity is. Do you need to take a pill daily, weekly or do you need to take several pills throughout the day?
If you take several pills daily, you will want to choose one that has sufficient compartments to store all your necessary medication. Some devices can dispense a greater number of pills throughout the day, while others are limited to just a few pills.
The number of compartments will also dictate how frequently the dispenser needs refilling. Some can store a week’s supply of medication, while others can store up to a few months’ supply of different pills. If the person relies on a family member or caregiver to top-up the dispenser, one that can store at least a month’s supply of medication is preferable, as it won’t need to be refilled so often.
Automated pill dispensers are usually either mains or battery operated or they may use a combination of both power sources.
A pill dispenser that can be powered by two power sources is generally safer than one solely powered by mains electricity, as the device can run off batteries in the event of a power outage and will still be operational.
Some pill dispensers feature a locking mechanism whereby the user is unable to gain access to the dispenser outside prescribed times. This increases user safety, as it helps to prevent them from overdosing or taking the wrong tablets.
Some devices can be locked using a key or passcode which allows the caregiver access only. Lockable pill dispensers are especially recommended for anyone who may get confused easily, such as those with cognitive impairments who may attempt to open the device and gain access to the medication themselves.
Worrying whether your loved one is taking their medication on a daily basis can be a big concern especially if they live alone and are prone to forgetting.
Some higher-end automated pill dispensers can connect to the user’s WiFi network and transmit information to their family or caregiver. This allows them to be notified when they have not taken their medication via a text message or call, so they can follow-up with them. Some models will also monitor and provide notifications when the user’s medication is running low, ensuring they never run out of important medicine.
Best Automated Pill Dispensers
1. LiveFine Automatic Pill Dispenser
- Pill capacity: Up to 28 days
- Max daily dosage: Up to 6X/day
- Alarm: Beeps and flashes up to 30 mins
- Lockable: Cover can be locked via a key
- Product weight: 0.75 lbs
- Power source: Battery (4xAA)
The lightweight and compact battery-operated pill dispenser from Livefine could be a good choice if you are looking for a reasonably priced medication organizer that you can use at home as well as easily take with you when you go on vacation.
The automatic pill dispenser can store up to 28 days’ supply of medication and it can dispense up to 6 pills per day. Each of the 28 slots can store up to 18 different types of pills and tablets, so it’s ideal if you need to take several types of medication throughout the day.
To set-up the medication dispenser, you need to follow these simple steps:
- Fill the carousel with the required medication.
- Fit 1 of the 6 dosage rings corresponding to the number of daily doses the user needs to take. If for example, the user takes 4 daily doses, you would fit ring 4.
- Finally, programme the required alert times using the 3-button interface relating to the user’s medication schedule.
The bright LCD display on the device is large so it’s easy to read even for users with visual impairments.
When the user’s prescription is due, the device will bleep and flash for up to 30 minutes. To take the medication from the dispenser, the door needs to be opened and the device flipped over. Once the medication has been taken and the device is turned upright again and the door is closed, the alarm will automatically stop.
The device features an integrated magnifier which gives a close-up view of the relevant dosage the user needs to take, which helps to prevent any medication mistakes.
To prevent double-dosing as well as unauthorized access, the device can be locked via a key, so the user is unable to access the medication other than prescribed times.
2. Hero Automated Pill Dispenser
- Pill capacity: Up to 90 days
- Max daily dosage: Up to 10X/day
- Alarm: Audio, visual, phone notifications (call, text)
- Lockable: Key and pin code
- Remote monitoring: Missed doses, refill reminders
- Product weight: 10 lbs
- Power source: Mains powered
Hero is a smart medication dispenser that can help to keep track of your daily medication regime irrelevant of how simple or complex it may be. The Hero pill dispenser can store and dispense up to 90 days’ supply of 10 different types of medication irrelevant of the shape and size of the pills.
The device is easy to set-up, once plugged in, connect it to your Wi-Fi network and install the smartphone Hero App (iOS or Android) and then pair it up to the medication dispenser. Next, pour the pills and tablets into the separate containers and then follow the easy to follow screen prompts to set-up the dispensing schedules.
When it’s time to take the medication, the device will bleep as well as flash. It can also send text notifications or it can phone the user to notify them that their medication is due, which is ideal if the user is hard of hearing or they have a visual impairment. To dispense the pills, the user simply needs to press the center button on the device and the pills will be dispensed into a cup. If the user does not remove the cup within 15 minutes, it will send a text alert to their designated caregiver, warning them about any missed dosages.
To prevent the patient from accessing the medication inside the machine, or from modifying any settings, the device is protected by an optional PIN as well as a key which can be used by the caregiver.
The automated medication is powered by mains electricity. While there is no back-up battery pack, an uninterruptible power supply can be purchased separately, which can be used to power the device in case of any outages. If the device loses power, a notification will be sent warning about this.
A handy feature is the device keeps track of when your medication is running low. When this happens, it will send an alert notifying about this, therefore ensuring the patient never runs out of essential medication. Hero also offers an optional medication refill service which will automatically deliver medication straight to your door without you needing to go out to pick it up yourself or rely on a caregiver to do so.
Hero works on a subscription type model. There’s a one-off initiation fee of $99.99 and there’s a $29.99 monthly fee (minimum one year subscription) which is less than a dollar a day. Included in the price is a 24/7 live support (email, chat, call) as well as the optional medication refill service, which you may want to take advantage of, especially considering delivery straight to your door is free.
Hero offers a 30-day money back risk-free trial. If you’re not satisfied with the automated pill dispenser within this trial period, you can return it free of charge and you will receive your money back.
3. MedaCube Pill Dispenser
- Pill capacity: Up to 90 days
- Max daily dosage: Up to 12X/day (expandable to 16)
- Alarm: Audio (including custom), visual, email, phone notifications (call, text)
- Lockable: Yes (key & Pin code)
- Remote monitoring: Missed doses, refill reminders
- Product weight: 10 lbs
- Power source: Mains powered & battery (24-hour backup)
The Medacube automated pill dispenser by PharmAdva has been designed to hold an impressive 90 days’ supply worth of medication, which can include up to 16 different types of pills and tablets.
The dispenser has two different sized pill boxes, including eight regular-sized ones and four larger boxes. This means the dispenser can store most sized tablets and pills with ease. You also don’t need to worry about sorting and loading individual pills into the compartments, which means it will save you time and effort.
To add new medication into the device, pour the pills into the pills boxes and you then use the touchscreen to enter the name of the medication as well as the dose quantity and the schedule times. If your pill bottle contains a QR code, you can simply scan the bottle using the integrated barcode reader and the dosage information will automatically get uploaded without you needing to do anything else. It can dispense up to 20 doses per day, so no matter how many pills or tablets you take, it should be sufficient for most people’s needs.
The smart dispenser offers a choice of alerts including audio, visual, email, as well phone notifications (call, text). A nice feature is that custom voice alerts can also be used. If the person suffers with dementia and they may get startled or confused from sudden loud noises, a familiar voice or song can be played instead, to remind them to take their medication.
During dose time, the device will play an alert, the user then just needs to press the touch screen and the medication will drop into the pop-out dispense drawer so that it can be taken.
If the patient misses or is a late for a dose, it will send an alert to the caregiver through either text, email, and/or phone. To prevent the user from accidentally double-dosing in case they realise that they have missed an earlier dose, the device will move any untaken medication to a lockable bin which can be retrieved later on by the caregiver.
Medacube’s real-time secure web portal also allows the caregiver to change medication schedules remotely as well as monitor adherence.
When the user’s medication is running low, it will automatically remind the caregiver several days beforehand to reorder some more.
The device has a tilt sensor so it can sense when the device has been tilted or dropped, which can prevent the patient tempering with the device. As soon as it senses any tampering, it will automatically lock the medication and the caregiver will receive a notification as soon as this happens.
The dispenser is mains powered, although the device does come with a battery back-up. If there is a power outage, the battery can last up to 24 hours.
4. Philips Medication Dispenser
- Pill capacity: Up to 40 days
- Max daily dosage: Up to 6X/day
- Alarm: Audio, visual
- Remote monitoring: Missed doses, refill reminders, power outages
- Power source: Mains powered & battery (18-hour backup)
The Philips medication smart dispenser can hold up to 40 days’ supply of medication and it can dispense up to 6 times per day.
While some pill dispensers simply require you to pour the medication into the relevant pill containers without needing to count the pills first, this device relies on the caregiver pre-loading each container individually with the correct number of pills and dosages. This means setting up the patient’s medication regime does take slightly longer than some of the other dispensers.
The Philips medication dispenser has been out on the market for longer than some of the other newer models that we have reviewed in this article. This means it does not have all the bells and whistles unlike some of the other models. There is for example, no app like there is with the Hero dispenser, which means you can’t use your smartphone to control the device. There’s also no web portal, so a caregiver is unable to change settings remotely. Nonetheless, this smart dispenser should be sufficient for most patient’s needs.
When it’s time for a scheduled dose, the patient will be alerted using a voice prompt and a warning light will also flash. Once the button is pressed, the user’s medication is dispensed.
Apart from being able to dispense medication at scheduled times, it also provides the capability to dispense medication on-demand. To prevent the risk of the user over-dosing, the caregiver is automatically alerted once this feature has been triggered, allowing them to monitor what the patient is doing.
Unlike some of the other Wi-Fi enabled smart dispensers, this one connects using a landline so the device will not work unless the patient has a phone line, so please bear that in mind.
The caregiver will be alerted if the user misses a prescribed dose. It will also provide alerts when the user’s medication needs to be refilled, as well as when there has been a power outage.
During a power outage, it can run off the backup power supply which can provide power for up to 18 hours.
Just like the Hero and Livi Livefine automatic pill smart dispenser, it works on a subscription type model which costs $59.95 per month. For an additional one-off optional fee of $99.99, a trained technician can also install the device at home for you and will demonstrate how it works.
5. Livi by PharmRight Automatic Pill Dispenser
- Pill capacity: Up to 90 days
- Max daily dosage: Up to 24X/day
- Alarm: Audio, visual, text message, email
- Lockable: Key
- Product weight: 13 lbs
- Power source: Mains powered & battery (8-hour backup)
The Livi Livegfine automatic pill dispenser is particularly suited for those with a particularly complex medication regime, who may need to take a large number of tablets daily to manage a long-term health condition. This smart dispenser can hold up to 90 days’ worth of 15 different medications and it can dispense a pill every hour of the day if required.
Filling the device with the user’s medication is straightforward. There is no need to sort the pills before pouring then into the designated pill containers so you won’t need to waste time counting them. Due to its larger pill capacity it will also mean you won’t have to refill the machine as frequently and it can handle a wide variety of pill shapes and sizes.
Apart from being able to dispense at scheduled times, it can also dispense as-needed (PRN) medications.
When it’s time to take the medication, it will glow green and it will bleep to remind the patient that they need to take their next dose. It can also send a text message or email to warn them to take their medication. All the patient needs to do is press the button on the machine and their prescribed medication will be released with minimal noise.
Even if you don’t live in the same house as the patient, you can still monitor that they’re taking their medication at the correct times. The device will send text alerts or emails to the designated caregiver/s when the patient has taken their medication, as well as when they have missed a dose. It will also monitor and send alerts when the patient’s medication is running low.
Changes to the patient’s medication schedule can be altered remotely using a smartphone or laptop without the caregiver needing to be at the patient’s home.
The device can be locked to prevent unauthorized access to any medication. If an unauthorized attempt is made to open the cover, the caregiver will be sent an alert, warning them about this.
If you’re going on vacation or you’re staying with friends or family, the smart dispenser can even dispense handy travel packs for up to 14 days, which is a nice feature and seems to be missing from other devices.
The machine does not rely on a Wi-Fi network, it instead uses an AT&T cellular data connection which is used for remote management and text/email notifications. This means you don’t need to have a landline or internet subscription, which is a plus.
The Livi smart pill dispenser has a $99 monthly fee and there’s also a one-off $130 upfront fee of which is for shipping and setup. Included in the monthly subscription fee is the cellular connectivity, as well as technical support.