Pillsy launches smart pill bottle and app to improve medication adherence

By Heather Mack
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Seattle, Washington-based Pillsy has officially launched its digital medication adherence and tracking tool, which consists of a smart pill bottle and companion app.

PillsyCap, as the product is known, uses Bluetooth to sense when the bottle is opened and closed, and syncs with the app to automatically tracks when a user takes their pills, reminds them when they forget a dose or warns if multiple dosages are taken too early, and allows for information sharing with family and loved ones. Along with tracking and reminders, Pillsy also employs a chatbot to check in with users on why they didn't take their pills in effort to pin down patterns and provide feedback to help them change their behavior. 

Pillsy, which was founded in 2015, is an alumnus of San Francisco-based accelerators 500 Startups and HAX Accelerator. The company is one of the latest of many applying digital and mobile technology to address the widespread problem of medication non-adherence across the United States.

“Non-adherence is not only dangerous, but also expensive,” Pillsy CEO Jeff LeBrun said in a statement. “Non-adherence is costing the healthcare system about $300 billion in wasteful spending each year; if we could solve this problem it would be enough to cover the healthcare costs of about 30 million Americans.”

With some 70 percent of Americans on prescription medication, pill-taking is hardly a unique part of everyday life. But most people have a hard time staying on track with their medications, and adherence rates still hover around 50 percent across the board, which leads to some $100 billion per year in excess hospitalizations and 125,000 deaths that could potentially be avoided. Additionally, pharmaceutical companies report a loss of $637 billion in revenue per year from non-adherence.

Medication adherence has remained one of healthcare’s most persistent challenges, but all those figures have digital health companies getting creative in solving it. Similar to Pillsy’s approach, Medisafe offers a few different options including a smart pill cap and pill box with companion apps and New York-based AdhereTech launched their second-generation smart pill bottle in 2015, but several other startups are employing different strategies. PillDrill, in an attempt to create something non-medical in appearance, developed a device that sits next to pills and tracks them via sensor-embedded labels. AiCure has a software offering that uses the smartphone camera to reliably track patients taking their medication and verify that they’ve done so. And Catalia Health, which just raised $2.5 million, is working on an AI-powered patient engagement robot called Mabu that has a built-in tablet to help with medication adherence (among other at-home care tasks).