Half of Americans take medication regularly, and half of those don’t take it properly–forgetting, missing or double-dosing. One study estimated that mistakes with blood pressure medication alone are responsible for 89,000 premature deaths a year, which puts medication noncompliance up there in the top five causes of death.
Now there’s a new app that makes taking your Lipitor almost as fun as checking in on Foursquare–kinda. Rotem and Omri ‘Bob’ Shor, Israeli brothers and co-founders, were inspired to create the MediSafe Project app after their diabetic father double-dosed on his medication. The free iPhone and Android app is a virtual pillbox that reminds patients to take their pills, requiring them to scan in the medicine’s barcode and check in each dose at the right time. If they forget to verify that they’ve done so, a family member, friend or caregiver will get a message. May sound a little Big Brother-ish, but in the first eight weeks, users checked in 100,000 medication doses and raised their self-reported compliance rate to 81%.
The implications of this are staggering and possibly scary. One can imagine a health insurance company one day dropping a patient who fails to take their meds on time. Or what if the terms of someone’s criminal probation require them to stay on psychopharmaceuticals? One can also imagine a radically more efficient future for nurses in hospitals or caregiving facilities who spend hours every day watching people swallow pills.