MedeStat to crowdfund a pillbox case for smartphones

By Jonah Comstock

PillBackerSmartphone-based medication adherence tools are rapidly becoming en established niche in digital health, and we've seen a range of form factors: medication reminder apps, smart pillboxes, and connected pill bottle caps to name a few. Cypress, Texas-based MedeStat is putting another twist on digital medication adherence with PillBacker, a smartphone case with built in compartments for pills, paired with a medication reminder app.

"There's all these great pill reminder apps, but there's no way to carry your medication with you," President and CEO Brian Vickers told MobiHealthNews. "People leave the house without their wallet and keys, no one leaves their house without the phone anymore. Why aren't we [storing] our medication on that?"

MedeStat plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter in the next couple of days to raise money to take the PillBacker into manufacturing. The hardware -- a rubber case containing several compartments for pills -- will be available for the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S4 to start, as well as a universal case that connects a pill container to the phone with magnets. All versions of the case have a magnetic locking feature.

"[We wanted to] keep it compact but still be able to function properly, keep the medicine protected if you drop it or anything along those lines," Vickers said. "But we want to have the ability to take whatever it is, over the counter medications, prescription medications, vitamins, if you rely on that for your health you have to take that medication with you. The more containers you have, the more likely you are to leave [them behind]."

The Pill Reminder app will aim to provide users with many different options for medication reminders: alerts, banners and notifications, that can be set at particular times and/or particular days. It will also include text-to-speech reminders and an augmented reality feature using the phone's camera. 

"The pill reminder app can be used as a standalone app whether or not someone has a PillBacker case, but they are designed to work together," Vickers said in an email. "The customer programs the app with the medications that are in each compartment and when they need to take them. When the alarm goes off it gives the user which medication compartment number that they need to take the pill from to avoid confusion, since many pills and vitamins look the same."

PillBacker is actually MedeStat's second project. The startup has been working on LifeGuard, a system that lets people wear their essential personal information on their body as a QR code, an attempt to make it easier for firefighters and paramedics to learn about their health conditions in an emergency.

In the future, if the Kickstarter campaign goes well, Vickers says he and his cofounder Rob Pirolo have plans for an Auvi-Q Epinephrin auto-injector, for people with life-threatening allergies. He says they've already had some talks with Auvi-Q maker Sanofi-Aventis about including the case as a throw-in with the drug. Other future plans include a PillBacker case with extra compartments for things like keys and credit cards.

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