Friday, June 29, 2007

Talking Pill Bottles

In 2004, I ran across an news article which described the concept of a talking pill bottle, and it's utility for the visually impaired, handicapped, illiterate, and people with cataracts. Several firms were mentioned, and I thought I'd visit each firms website for a product overview. Each firm used a small electronic chip attached to the pill container, or a receptacle around it. But they had drawbacks, such as requiring a pharmacist or caregiver to read information into a recording device, needing patients to buy a $325 "reader" device, or using $10 disposable pill bottles. I did check with my local Walgreen's pharmacist, and he claimed they had no experience with such devices, though he agreed they'd be useful.

First, we have En-Vision America's Script Talk. The system acts in this fashion. When a patient using a ScripTalk reader submits a prescription, the pharmacy software prints and programs an auxiliary smart label using a dedicated, small-footprint printer. The smart label, which stores prescription information is placed onto the prescription container by the pharmacist. In the home, the patient uses a hand-held ScripTalk Reader that speaks out the label information using speech synthesis technology. By simply moving the prescription within an inch of the ScripTalk reader, pertinent information such as, the name of the patient; the name of the drug; the dosage; general instructions; warnings; prescription (Rx) Number; along with the doctor’s name and phone number are converted into speech.

The second vendor is MedivoxRx Technologies' Rex-The talking Prescription Bottle. Rex is fully automated through text-to-speech technology, allowing pharmacists to electronically record the label information to the pill bottle in a natural sounding computer generated voice using the pharmacy’s current software and data. As the pharmacist sends the label information to the printer, the label information is recorded into the base of the bottle. Features and benefits include ease of use (one push button), no special reader required, no usage training required, disposability, and low cost for patients.

The third vendor cited was Talking Rx. Talking Rx® is a simple, yet effective solution that provides audible guidance in taking medications. The device attaches to common-sized prescription bottles and contains a memo recorder that allows a physician, pharmacist, caregiver, family member or patient to record necessary information about the medication. Samples of the information that can be recorded include: name of the medication and the name of the person for whom it is prescribed, instructions for proper use, any special instructions or possible side effects, name and telephone numbers of physician and pharmacy, and expiration date and refill information, including the prescription reorder number.

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