Taking it one dose at a time

Dose Health simplifies prescribed medication with smart pillbox

By Edwin Reyes Herrera

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. For Paul Hines, it was actually his grandmother’s needs — specifically related to her difficulty in taking prescriptions — that spurred Hines’ idea for a smarter pillbox. At the time, he was two years into medical school. He enlisted the help of three friends, and the company Dose Health was born. “When the idea became big enough, we formed a team, began prototypes and became full-time,” says Hines, now CEO and software lead for the New Brighton–based company. 

Dose Health’s mission is to lower health care costs with its smarter pillbox, called Dose Dispense, and provide peace of mind for patients and their caregivers. Currently, the pillbox is covered by all Minnesota HCBS waiver programs.

Emphasizing ease of use, Dose Dispense pairs the simplicity of the pillbox with intelligent software interface designed to strengthen adherence. Dose Dispense has a touchscreen and 14 compartments within a single tray, and can be programmed to dispense medication up to five times a day. After set-up, the device stores the times medications need to be taken and dispenses accordingly.

The device’s rotating internal tray reveals the correct compartment and sounds an alarm notifying the patient to take the scheduled pills. The individual then simply flips the pillbox over to retrieve the medication. After dispensing the pills, Dose Dispense’s tray closes on its own.

The devices include internet connectivity and can send text messages, emails or phone notifications to a caregiver when the patient has taken — or missed — a dose. In addition, because they are approximately five inches in diameter, the portable devices are travel-friendly. 

Patients rent the dispensers; prices range from approximately $30 to $50 per month depending on if the patient needs one or two devices. Dose Health has distributed hundreds of pillboxes and has tracked more than 40,000 dispenses with a 96% average rate of adherence. The pillbox also provides important tracking data to help caretakers and institutions improve care programs. Future plans involve working with health organizations directly to study long-term effects of adherence and improve health outcomes with Dose Dispense based on those results.

“We need to see how much it benefits Minnesota before we spread it nationally. There are many places in this state we can reach, which continues to help us grow,” says Hines.