Using Dependability Telecare Assessment to assess telecare equipment

The latest item on Guy Dewsbury’s The Telecare Blog shows how his Dependability Telecare Assessment tool (DTA) can be used to assess a piece of telecare equipment. For illustration he applies it to ‘a generic pill dispenser’ – with interesting results.

5 thoughts on “Using Dependability Telecare Assessment to assess telecare equipment

  1. Evaluating Pill Dispenser

    The pill dispenser can be a useful tool to help maintain independence, and studies have shown that not taking medication of the correct doseage and at the correct time can impact on the ability to manage the risk of living independently depending on the users health condition.

    I am sure the pill dispenser has its faults, but some of them can be overcome by a correct assessment in the first place to ensure you are matching this technology with the person. I suppose you could ask whether the situation would be even worse if this equipment was not prescribed? It is about good assessment and balancing the risk, the fall back position could be the monitoring centre who could make contact if the pill dispenser has not been responded to by the user to the alarm raised by it and may be in a position to talk them through the process of taking the medicine.

    The difficulty is knowing whether the person has actually taken the medicine and I suppose this may be able to be ascertained when the dispenser is next filled by whoever is responsible. It is a difficult area and therefore prescribing such devices may be only useful to people experiencing early signs of forgetfulness and only require a gentle reminder, once past a certain cognitive awareness level they may then be unsuitable. I wonder if any studies have been conducted around this area.

    The human interaction therefore is still required.

  2. Pill Dispenser Research

    Adding a few comments to your excellent observations Mike, experience has suggested three categories of interest for individuals wanting to purchase medication dispensers: Ease of use, product reliability, and time of adoption.

    Your last point is critical, if the purpose is to allow the elder to maintain their independence and freedom as long as possible, then early adoption while near term cognition is still intact is key since it provides the patient with an opportunity to establish new behaviors for medication management.

    Ease of use is also critical to acceptance. Features that get high marks include Pill time reminding, pill taking instructions, elimination of pill sorting, portability, Automated recording of pill taking events and uploading of data for remote monitoring, both voiced and displayed instructions (preferrably in two languages), and remote monitoring and alerts. An example of a device that provides this functionality can be found at our website,

    On medication dispensing research, there will be considerable work done in this area over the next two years so stay tuned! MedSignals has already been through three large clinical trials and is currently involved in 16 NIH grant submissions supporting healthcare leaders who will study CHF, Diabetes, Hypertension, TBI, Organ Transplant, Obesity, Alzheimer’s, and Heart Surgery recovery.

    One final note, as the new biologic drugs come into the market, we will see changes in delivery (injection pens, nebulizers, etc.) which will drive new medication dispensing methods. As this market grows, medication dispensing will need to adapt.

  3. Pill Dispenser
    Interesting comments Jerry, I am sure we would all love to see your research on this area when ready. The future developments you mention in the way medication may be dispensed is also interesting and raises another set of interesting problems to be addressed.

  4. West Midlands’ Pilot Study of an automatic pill dispenser

    You may be interested to know that over 400 vulnerable adults, who risk deteriorating ill health by forgetting to take their medication, are taking part in a major trial of an automatic pill dispenser.

    The pilot, organised by the West Midlands Joint Improvement Partnership (JIP)is the first and largest regional study involving health and social care specialists, with seven local authorities and Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) taking part. It is being rolled out across the West Midlands from 19 October.

    The aim is to show how safe and appropriate technology, like the pill dispenser, can help vulnerable people stay well and live independently in their own home. The dispenser will be trialled for six months in a variety of situations with different groups, including on a hospital ward in North Staffs.

    Data will be collected on users compliance with taking medication and carers and users satisfaction and feedback. Watch this space for more updates.

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