Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20090315702 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/307,574
PCT numberPCT/IL2007/000776
Publication dateDec 24, 2009
Filing dateJun 26, 2007
Priority dateJul 5, 2006
Also published asCA2691965A1, CN101512514A, CN101512514B, EP2037990A2, EP2037990A4, EP2037990B1, US8085135, US20090301925, US20120154120, WO2008004212A2, WO2008004212A3
Publication number12307574, 307574, PCT/2007/776, PCT/IL/2007/000776, PCT/IL/2007/00776, PCT/IL/7/000776, PCT/IL/7/00776, PCT/IL2007/000776, PCT/IL2007/00776, PCT/IL2007000776, PCT/IL200700776, PCT/IL7/000776, PCT/IL7/00776, PCT/IL7000776, PCT/IL700776, US 2009/0315702 A1, US 2009/315702 A1, US 20090315702 A1, US 20090315702A1, US 2009315702 A1, US 2009315702A1, US-A1-20090315702, US-A1-2009315702, US2009/0315702A1, US2009/315702A1, US20090315702 A1, US20090315702A1, US2009315702 A1, US2009315702A1
InventorsMichael Cohen Alloro, Batami Sadan, Gilead Asseo, Tomer Gofer
Original AssigneeMichael Cohen Alloro, Batami Sadan, Gilead Asseo, Tomer Gofer
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Medication Dispenser
US 20090315702 A1
Abstract
Disclosed is a method for providing medication according to a preset schedule, the method comprising: providing a disposable medication dispenser containing medication to a user; connecting one dispenser monitor to said medication dispenser; monitoring a state of said medication with said monitor; providing, via said monitor, signals with respect to said state of said medication to a health monitoring station; and monitoring the state of dispenser at the health monitoring station.
Images(7)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(28)
1. A medication dispensing system comprising:
a) a base
b) a box connected to said base, said box comprising at least two compartments, at least one first compartment configured to contain at least one first medication and at least one second compartment configured to contain at least one second medication;
c) at least two sensors connected to said base:
at least one first sensor configured to provide at least one first state-indicating signal of said at least one first compartment; and
at least one second sensor configured to provide at least one second state-indicating signal of said at least one second compartment;
d) a housing connected to said base, said housing containing:
i) a wireless transponder connected to said at least two sensors and configured to wirelessly receive and transmit signals to a wireless remote health monitoring station;
ii) an audiovisual output connected to said at least two sensors, said audiovisual output configured to provide at least one audiovisual display responsive so said at least one state-indicating signal; and
iii) a power supply operatively associated with at least one of:
said wireless transponder;
said audiovisual output; and
said at least two sensors.
2. The system according to claim 1, wherein said at least two compartments each include a hatch and said one state-indicating signal indicates whether said hatch has been opened.
3. The system according to claim 1, wherein:
said at least one first state-indicating signal; and
said at least one second state-indicating signal, indicate whether medication has been removed from at least one of said at least two compartments.
4. The system according to claim 3, wherein said at least two sensors are sensitive to the weight of medication in said at least two compartments.
5. The system according to claim 3, wherein said at least two sensors are sensitive to light and configured to sense changes in light intensity caused by medication contained in said at least two compartments.
6-7. (canceled)
8. The system according to claim 1, wherein said at least two sensors provide reflecting radiant beams from the group consisting of Ultrasound beams, laser beams, Split-light-beams; radar beams, infrared light beams and visible light beams.
9. (canceled)
10. The system according to claim 1, wherein said box is removably connected to said base.
11. The system according to claim 10, wherein said box is configured to be disposed following consumption of said at least one first medication and said at least one second medication.
12. The system according to claim 10, wherein said housing includes a data reader and said box includes medication consumption data configured to be read by said data reader.
13. The system according to claim 12, wherein said medication consumption data comprises a bar code and said data reader comprises a bar code reader.
14. The system according to claim 13, wherein said medication consumption data includes at least one of the following:
a) a name of user;
b) a dosage;
c) a timing of dosage;
d) directions for consuming a medication
e) a medication appearance; and
f) a medication reaction symptom requiring health provider notification.
15. The system according to claim 1, wherein said at least two compartments are configured to be filled at a remote location.
16-21. (canceled)
22. The system according to claim 20 wherein said audiovisual output is configured to display at least one of:
a) a confirmation of a change in state of a compartment;
b) an alert to consume at least one medication;
c) an alert to remove said box from said base; and
d) an alert to connect another box to said base.
e) directions for consuming a medication;
f) a medication appearance; and
g) a medication reaction symptom requiring health provider notification.
23-29. (canceled)
30. The system according to claim 1, including a remote health monitoring station configured to wirelessly transmit medication consumption data to said wireless transponder.
31-35. (canceled)
36. The system according to claim 30, wherein said remote health monitoring station is configured to provide alert signals to a user through said wireless transponder in the absence of a change of state in said at least one compartment within a programmed period of time.
37-50. (canceled)
51. The system according to claim 1, including a local wireless relay station configured to communicate with said wireless transponder and to communicate with said wireless remote health monitoring station.
52. The system according to claim 51, wherein said local wireless relay station includes a cellular telephone chip.
53. The system according to claim 51, wherein said local wireless relay station communicates with said wireless transponder using at least one of Bluetooth communication, RF and infra-red communication.
54-110. (canceled)
111. A method for providing medication according to a preset schedule, the method comprising:
a) providing a disposable medication dispenser containing medication to a user;
b) connecting one dispenser monitor to said disposable medication dispenser
c) monitoring a state of said disposable medication dispenser with said monitor;
d) providing via said monitor signals with respect to said state of said disposable medication dispenser to a health monitoring station; and
e) monitoring the state of disposable medication dispenser at said health monitoring station.
112. The method according to claim 111, further including: providing alerts pertaining to a user condition communicated by a user health monitor.
113-115. (canceled)
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority of IL176712, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to the field of medication and health monitoring systems wirelessly connected to central data banks. More specifically, the present invention provides autonomous and automatic medication dispensing systems.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION A Shift in Medication Focus

During the 20th century, the leading causes of death in the United States shifted from infectious to chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. Each chronic disease is associated with many new drugs; drugs that affect the lives of 90 million U.S. residents, at a cost of 70% of total medical care expenditures.

Non-Compliance in the Aging

The shift, from treating acute to chronic conditions is reflected in increased life expectancy and the accompanying need for a medication consumer, advanced in years, to remember to consume multiple dosages of multiple medications, each at a specific time and with specific instructions, for example prior to, or following, meals.

Most US elderly wish to maintain an independent lifestyle for as long as possible with institutionalization being avoided at all cost. Yet the failure to adhere to proper mediation schedules was implicated in up to 40% of nursing home admissions in 2004.

Non-Compliance in Chronic Disease

Drug regimens for chronic diseases are often complex, long-term, and may require considerable behavior modification; for example restricting intake of wine, aged cheese or organ meats in the case of Mono-Amine Inhibitors. As a result, proper adherence to medication consumption schedules is not restricted to those of advanced years with the following problems being applicable to the US population in general:

    • a) 14% to 21% of patients never fill their original prescriptions;
    • b) 60% of all patients cannot identify their own medications; and
    • c) 30% to 50% of all patients ignore or otherwise compromise instructions concerning their medication.
Non-Compliance and Morbidity

Noncompliance with medication consumption schedules is typically cited as occurring in from 50% to 75% of all patients and was responsible for up to 11% of hospital admissions in 2004. Nonadherence to medication consumption schedules in 2004 resulted in approximately 125,000 deaths, about twice the deaths from automobile accidents.

C. Everett Koop, M.D.—former Surgeon General of the United States summarized the problem: “Drugs don't work in patients who don't take them”.

The Cost of Non-Compliance

“The direct and indirect costs of nonadherence total approximately $100 billion per year in the United States.” (American Pharmacists Association newsletter, Oct. 2004)

According to the World Health Organization in 2003, “increasing the effectiveness of adherence interventions may have a far greater impact on the health of the population than any improvement in specific medical treatments”.

Attention is now directed to a variety of common conditions and the need for better medication consumption compliance.

Asthma

A patient with advanced asthma may often be required to take a decongestant on an empty stomach before breakfast, one or more once-a-day medicines at breakfast, a plurality of inhalers, some once a day, some three times a day, an antibiotic taken with meals, and a one-a-day medicine at bedtime. Many medical doctors find that their patients forget one or more of these regimens and, as a result, do not receive the benefit that is available to them.

Hypertension

Hypertension is a chronic condition that may result in stroke and heart failure. Researchers estimate that 58.8 million Americans (one fifth of the population) have some form of cardiovascular disease. Noncompliance is a major factor in the increasing number of deaths related to cardiovascular disease.

According to a recent study by a team of researchers from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, “as many as half of ‘failures’ of treatment to bring elevated blood pressure down to normal levels may be due to unrecognized lapses by patients in taking antihypertensive drugs as prescribed.”

Among the most commonly cited reasons for noncompliance are difficulty in managing:

    • more than 1 dose a day; and
    • multiple drug regimens.
Diabetes

Diabetes affects 17 million people or 6.2 percent of the American population. Diabetes is a chronic illness, like hypertension, which involves a complex, long-term medical regimen. Researchers estimate that 95% of diabetes care is performed by the patient and includes, for example, timing medication to exercise and eating schedules. It is this particularly complex medication consumption regiment that results in high rates of noncompliance in diabetics.

Auto-Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

AIDS, a worldwide epidemic effecting millions of people, is another disease with an extremely complex medical regimen. There have been recent breakthroughs in the effectiveness of AIDS treatments including HAART (highly active antiviral therapy), which provide the possibility of significantly controlling the effects of AIDS.

In clinical trials, the HAART treatment resulted in low or undetectable viral load levels in as much as 85% of the patients in the study. However, in the real world, only 50% of patients were positively affected by the HAART treatment; an alarming statistic that is closely tied to patient compliance.

Issues Related to Medication Dispensation

“The care of patients with chronic disease is one of the most urgent medical challenges facing the United States”. (Ann Intern Med 2005; 458-459.)

In addition to the problems posed by noncompliance with medication schedules, there are health related issues in conjunction with medication dispensation that must be addressed. A medication consumer with a serious primary health problem, for example AIDS, may succumb to symptoms related to the primary problem, for example fainting.

In a situation of fainting, the medication consumer state may not be detected until it is too late to provide even basic resuscitation action. In such cases, the entire basis for ensuring medication consumption becomes mute.

Medication Dispensers with Consumption Reminders

Devices that provide reminders and dispensation of a single medication are known. U.S. Pat. No. 5,181,189 to Hafner teaches a device that receives information from a medicine container and provides storage and time-regulated dispensing of a single drug. Each medicine container is connected to a separate device, so that medication consumption is stymied by the consumer who has inadvertently separated the devices and cannot remember the location of one or more containers.

Devices that provide reminders and dispensation of a multiple medication from a single dispenser are known.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,669,503 to Robin teaches a medication dose control system having a dispensing chamber connected to multiple dispensing hoppers. The user is required to rotate the dispensing chamber in response to an alarm, presenting difficulty to a frail, geriatric consumer.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,915,558 to Girvetz; U.S. Pat. No. 5,954,225 to Powe; and U.S. Pat. No. 6,021,902 to Wu; teach medication dispensers that dispense multiple medications. Each dispenser, however, requires multiple user interactions with a relatively small number of buttons that limit the amount of medication dispensation information output.

Additionally, the user is not provided information, for example, pertaining to, time interval, drug name, or directions, for example “take with meals.” Furthermore, effective activation of pill dispensing alarms and/or reminders present significant barriers to setup, for example in a debilitated or geriatric user.

Health Monitoring Systems

There are a number of companies; mostly U.S. based, that offer a number of pre-programmed pill dispensing solutions that are wirelessly connected to a pill consumption monitor.

E-Pill is a Boston area based company that has various solutions for medication compliance in the form of pill dispensers, reminders and software programs. The devices are in the price range between $25 for a birth control pill reminder, to a $750 home based pill dispenser with communication abilities. It also has a range of other related pill dispenser/medication reminders in the form of alarm and vibrating watches, pill dispensers and software programs that are configured for use with PDA's, cellular phones, and portable and home PC's.

INRange Systems Inc. is a company founded in 2001 that manufactures and markets a Remote Medication Management System with the following business partners: University of Wisconsin, School of Pharmacy Penn State University, Erie Plastics Technology Center, and PSU Ben Franklin Technology Partners. The system comprises three elements: a medication dispenser unit, a software program, and a proprietary MEDisc, that holds medication—30 pills or capsules in a blisterized form, with bar-coded information, that is transmitted to the dispenser unit. When the time for consumption arrives, the MEDisc moves with respect to the dispenser and the consumer is alerted to take the medication.

In spite of the sophistication of the above-noted medication dispensing services and devices offered, a consumer who faints, for example due to an untoward medication reaction or overdose, will not register as having “missed” taking a dose until the next medication dispensation, for example two hours later. If the fainting occurs following a medication dispensation prior to bed, the “missed” dosage will first be registered six to ten hours later, with the delay in monitoring the consumer health possibly becoming a contributing factor to consumer death.

In addition, relatives are often the first notified of the missed dosage and instructed to call the consumer; providing further delay in required emergency treatments when the relative and/or consumer are not near a telephone.

The problems associated with medical emergencies in conjunction with medication dispensing systems cannot be taken for granted and, in addition to endangering consumer health, could engender a medical tort lawsuit.

Thus, there is a need to provide a medication dispensing reminder that is easy to use and works in conjunction with a dedicated system that monitors consumer health.

SUMMARY

Some embodiments of the present invention successfully address at least some of the shortcomings of the prior art by providing an autonomous and automatic personal medication dispensing system, some embodiments of which substantially ameliorate patient noncompliance.

According to an aspect of the invention, there is provided a medication dispensing system comprising a base, a box configured to connect to the base, the box comprising at least two compartments, a first compartment configured to contain at least one medication and a second compartment configured to contain at least one medication. The system further comprising at least two sensors connected to the base and configured to align with at least a portion of the at least two compartments when the box is connected to the base, the at least two sensors configured to each provide at least one state-indicating signal that indicates a state of the compartment. The system further comprising a housing connected to the base, the housing containing a wireless transponder connected to the at least two sensors and configured to wirelessly receive and transmit signals to a wireless remote health monitoring station, an audiovisual output connected to the at least two sensors, the audiovisual output configured to provide at least one audiovisual display responsive to the at least one state-indicating signal, and a power supply operatively associated with at least one of: the wireless transponder, the audiovisual output, and the at least two sensors.

In embodiments, the at least two compartments include a hatch and the at least one state-indicating signal indicates whether the hatch has been opened.

In embodiments, the at least one state-indicating signal indicates whether the at least one medication has been removed from at least one of the at least two compartments.

In embodiments, the at least two sensors are sensitive to the weight of the at least one medication.

In embodiments, the at least two sensors are sensitive to the presence of light and are positioned to be at least partially covered when at least one medication is contained within the compartment.

In embodiments, the at least two compartments are at least partially, at least one of transparent, and translucent.

In embodiments, the at least two compartments each contain at least one aperture configured to transmit light waves.

In embodiments, the at least two sensors are wireless sensors providing radiant sensing beams from the group consisting of Ultrasound beams, laser beams, Split-light-beams, radar beams, infrared light beams and visible light beams.

In embodiments, the radiant sensing beams comprise reflected radiant sensing beams.

In embodiments, the box is configured to removably connect to the base.

In embodiments, the box is configured to be disposed following consumption of the at least one medication contained in the at least two compartments.

In embodiments, the housing includes a data reader and the box includes medication consumption data configured to be read by the data reader.

In embodiments, the medication consumption data comprises a bar code and the data reader comprises a bar code reader.

In embodiments, the medication consumption data includes at least one of the following: a name of user, a dosage a timing of dosage a medication appearance, and a medication reaction symptom requiring health provider notification.

In embodiments, the at least two compartments are configured to be filled at a remote location.

In embodiments, the at least two compartments are configured to packaged in a manner that facilitates shipment to a user via a postal service.

In embodiments, the at least two compartments are designed to be substantially easily attached to the base.

In embodiments, the at least two compartments are designed to be substantially easily removed from the base.

In embodiments, the system includes a remote medication filling location where the at least one medication compartment is filled.

In embodiments, the system includes at least two boxes, at least one first box and at least one second box, when the at least one first box is connected to the housing, the at least one second box is disconnected from the housing.

In embodiments, the at least one first box contains the at least one medication and the at least one second box is empty of medication.

In embodiments, the housing includes a clock display and clock set input, the audiovisual output is configured to display at least one of: an audiovisual alert, confirming consumption of the at least one medication, an audiovisual alert to consume the at least one medication, an audiovisual alert to remove the at least one second box from the base, and an audiovisual alert to connect the at least one first box to the base.

In embodiments, the at least two sensors are attached to at least one of: the at least two compartments, and the base.

In embodiments, the housing includes a clock display and clock set input.

In embodiments, the at least two sensors are operative to sense and transmit a signal indicating that a hatch associated with the compartment is in at least one state of: open, and opening.

In embodiments, the at least two sensors are operative to sense and transmit a signal indicating that a hatch associated with the compartment is in at least one state of: open, and opening.

In embodiments, the wireless transponder includes a user activated inactive mode.

In embodiments, the transponder sends a wireless signal that the wireless transponder is in the inactive mode to the remote health monitoring station.

In embodiments, the at least one audiovisual output on the housing comprises at least one of: an LED display, a liquid crystal display, a twisted crystal display, and a phosphor display.

In embodiments, the system includes a remote health monitoring station is configured to wirelessly transmit the medication consumption data to the wireless transponder.

In embodiments, the remote health monitoring station is configured to wirelessly update the medication consumption data.

In embodiments, the audiovisual output is configured to provide at least one signal based upon at least one of: the medication consumption data and the state of the at least two compartments. In embodiments, 30 the at least two sensors are operative to sense and transmit a signal indicating that the at least one medication has been accessed at an improper time, based upon the medication consumption data.

In embodiments, the at least two sensors are configured to transmit a signal indicating that a wrong compartment has been accessed based upon the medication consumption data.

In embodiments, the wireless transponder is configured to transmit wireless signals to the remote health monitoring station in the absence of a change in compartment state according to the consumption data within a programmed period of time.

In embodiments, the remote health monitoring station is configured to communicate with the transponder in the absence of a change in compartment state within a programmed period of time.

In embodiments, the communication includes providing at least one display transmitted by the remote health monitoring station via the audiovisual display.

In embodiments, the remote health, monitoring station is configured to additionally transmit a message to a user through at least one of: a cellular telephone, and a hard-wired telephone.

In embodiments, the remote health monitoring station is configured to issue a directive to contact a user, the directive being transmitted to at least one of: an acquaintance of the user, a medical person, and an emergency response system.

In embodiments, the at least two compartments are configured to operate in conjunction with the audiovisual output on least one of: two or more times during a day, and two or more days.

In embodiments, the power source includes at least one battery. In embodiments, the housing includes at least one battery. In embodiments, the at least one battery is rechargeable. In embodiments, the power source comprises a DC current, supplied by an AC/DC transformer.

In embodiments, the housing is configured to contain at least one rechargeable battery configured to be recharged via the DC current. In embodiments, the housing is configured to contain the AC/DC transformer and further includes an AC input receptacle.

In embodiments, the AC/DC transformer is located outside the housing and the housing further includes a DC input receptacle.

In embodiments, the AC/DC transformer is part of a USB system and the housing further includes a USB input receptacle.

In embodiments, the transponder is configured to receive an SMS messaging protocol and the at least one audiovisual output is configured to display the SMS protocol.

In embodiments, the remote health monitoring station comprises an SMSC.

In embodiments, the system includes a local wireless relay station configured to wirelessly receive the transponder signals and to receive and transmit signals to the wireless remote health monitoring station.

In embodiments, the local wireless relay station includes a cellular telephone chip.

In embodiments, the local wireless relay station communicates with the transponder using at least one of Bluetooth communication, RF and infrared communication.

In embodiments, the remote health monitoring station further includes a Web server for communication through a Web-based function.

In embodiments, the communication through the Web-based function includes an analysis by a medical professional.

In embodiments, the system includes at least one integrated chip imprinted with at least two of: a circuit of the at least two sensors, a circuit of the at least one audiovisual output, and a circuit of the wireless transponder.

In embodiments, at least one of the at least two compartments is about 25 millimeters on each of the X and Y axes.

In embodiments, at least one of aid at least two compartments is about at least one of 10 millimeters, 15 millimeters, and 20 millimeters on the X and Y axes.

In embodiments, at least one of the at least two compartments is no more than at least one of about 30 millimeters, 40 millimeters, and 50 millimeters on the X and Y axes.

In embodiments, at least one of the at least two compartments have different measurements along the X axis than along the Y axis.

In embodiments, at least one of the at least two compartments have polygonal shapes on the X and Y axes.

In embodiments, at least one of the at least two compartments has at least one shape of: triangular, rectangular, and hexagonal, on the X and Y axes.

In embodiments, at least one of the at least two compartments have a curved shape on the X and Y axes.

In embodiments, at least one of the at least two compartments is about 25 millimeters deep on the Z axis.

In embodiments, at least one of the at least two compartments is at least one of about 10 millimeters, 15 millimeters, and 20 millimeters deep on the Z axis.

In embodiments, at least one of the at least two compartments is no more than about 30 millimeters, 40 millimeters, or even 50 millimeters deep on Z axis.

In embodiments, at least one of the box and the base comprise a material selected from the group consisting of: polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane, nylon and a biocompatible polymer fiber.

In embodiments, at least one of the box and the base comprise a material selected from the group consisting of: metals, synthetic biostable polymer, a natural polymer, and an inorganic material.

In embodiments, the biostable polymer comprises a material from the group consisting of: a polyolefin, a polyurethane, a fluorinated polyolefin, a chlorinated polyolefin, a polyamide, an acrylate polymer, an acrylamide polymer, a vinyl polymer, a polyacetal, a polycarbonate, a polyether, a polyester, an aromatic polyester, a polysulfone, and a silicone rubber.

In embodiments, the natural polymer comprises a material from the group consisting of: a polyolefin, a polyurethane, a Mylar, a silicone, and a fluorinated polyolefin.

According to another aspect of the invention, there is provided a method for monitoring consumption of medication from a medication box, the method comprising: filling at least two medication compartments on a first medication box with medication, sending the first medication box to a user connecting the at least two medication compartments to at least two medication sensor transponders receiving signals from the at least two medication sensor transponders at a central station, and communicating with the user based upon the signals received from the at least two medication sensor transponders.

The method wherein the medication box is disposable and the method further includes: disposing of the first medication box upon consumption of the medication, filling at least two medication compartments on a first medication box with medication, sending the first medication box to a user, an connecting the at least two medication compartments to at least two medication sensor transponders.

According to still another aspect of the invention, there is provided an autonomous and automatic medication dispensing system that works in conjunction with a remote health monitoring station, the system comprising a box comprising at least two compartments having a compartment-securing hatch, the at least two compartments configured to contain at least one medication, at least two sensors operatively associated with the at least two compartments and configured to provide at least one state-indicating signal that indicates a state of the compartment, a housing configured to connect to the at least one medication compartment, the housing containing several items, including a CPU connected to the at least two sensors and configured to provide at least one CPU audiovisual output signal responsive to the at least one state-indicating signal a wireless transponder connected to the CPU and configured to wirelessly receive and transmit signals to a wireless remote health monitoring station an audiovisual output connected to the CPU and to the wireless transponder, the output configured to provide at least one audiovisual display responsive to at least one of: the CPU audiovisual output signal, and the wireless transponder, a power source operatively associated with at least one of the items contained in the housing a wireless monitoring device that monitors a condition of a user, the monitoring device configured to wirelessly receive and transmit signals to a wireless remote health monitoring station, a wireless remote health monitoring station configured to receive and transmit wireless signals to the wireless transponder and the wireless monitoring device.

In embodiments, the at least two sensors are attached to at least one of: the at least two compartments, and the housing.

In embodiments, the housing includes a clock display and clock set input.

In embodiments, the at least two sensors are operative to sense and transmit a signal indicating that a hatch associated with the compartment is in at least one state of: open, and opening.

In embodiments, the at least two sensors are operative to sense and transmit a signal indicating that a hatch associated with the compartment is in at least one state of: open, and opening.

In embodiments, the CPU includes a user activated inactive mode.

In embodiments, the transponder sends a wireless signal that the CPU is in the inactive mode to the remote health monitoring station.

In embodiments, the at least one audiovisual output on the housing comprises at least one of: an LED display, a liquid crystal display, a twisted crystal display, and a phosphor display.

In embodiments, the CPU includes medication consumption data, the data including at least one of the following a name of user, a dosage, a timing of dosage, a medication appearance, and a medication reaction symptom requiring health provider notification.

In embodiments, the audiovisual output provides a display until the hatch state is opened according to the consumption data.

In embodiments, the remote health monitoring station is configured to wirelessly transmit the medication consumption data to the wireless transponder.

In embodiments, the remote health monitoring station is configured to wirelessly update the medication consumption data.

In embodiments, the audiovisual output is configured to provide at least one signal based upon at least one of: the medication consumption data, and the state of the compartment-securing hatch.

In embodiments, 82 the at least two sensors are operative to sense and transmit a signal indicating that the medication has been accessed at an improper time, based upon the medication consumption data.

In embodiments, the at least one medication compartment comprises at least two medication compartments, each compartment operatively associated with at least two sensors.

In embodiments, the at least two sensors are configured to transmit a signal indicating that a wrong compartment has been accessed based upon the medication consumption data.

In embodiments, the wireless transponder is configured to transmit wireless signals to the remote health monitoring station in the absence of a change in compartment state according to the consumption data within a programmed period of time.

In embodiments, the remote health monitoring station is configured to communicate with the transponder in the absence of a change in compartment state within a programmed period of time.

In embodiments, the communication includes providing at least one display transmitted by the remote health monitoring station via the audiovisual display.

In embodiments, the remote health monitoring station is configured to additionally transmit a message to a user through at least one of: a cellular telephone, and a hard-wired telephone.

In embodiments, the remote health monitoring station is configured to issue a directive to contact a user, the directive being transmitted to at least one of: an acquaintance of the user, a medical person, and an emergency response system.

In embodiments, the at least two compartments are configured to operate in conjunction with the audiovisual output on least one of: two or more times during a day, and two or more days. In embodiments, the power source includes at least one battery. In embodiments, the housing includes at least one battery. In embodiments, the at least one battery is rechargeable. In embodiments, the power source comprises a DC current, supplied by an AC/DC transformer.

In embodiments, the housing is configured to contain at least one rechargeable battery configured to be recharged via the DC current. In embodiments, the housing is configured to contain the AC/DC transformer and further includes an AC input receptacle.

In embodiments, the AC/DC transformer is located outside the housing and the housing further includes a DC input receptacle.

In embodiments, the AC/DC transformer is part of a USB system and the housing further includes a USB input receptacle.

In embodiments, the transponder is configured to receive an SMS messaging protocol and the at least one audiovisual output is configured to display the SMS protocol.

In embodiments, the remote health monitoring station comprises an SMSC.

In embodiments, the system includes a local wireless relay station configured to wirelessly receive the transponder signals and to receive and transmit signals to the wireless remote health monitoring station.

In embodiments, the local wireless relay station includes a cellular telephone chip.

In embodiments, the local wireless relay station communicates with the transponder using at least one of Bluetooth communication, RF and infra-red communication.

In embodiments, the remote health monitoring station further includes a Web server for communication through a Web-based function.

In embodiments, the communication through the Web-based function includes an analysis by a medical professional.

In embodiments, the system includes at least one integrated chip imprinted with at least two of: a circuit of the at least two sensors, a circuit of the at least one audiovisual output, and a circuit of the wireless transponder.

According to a further aspect of the invention, there is provided a method for providing medication according to a preset schedule in conjunction with a user monitoring device, the method comprising: providing a medication dispenser to a user, the dispenser having at least two compartments, connecting compartment monitors to the at least two compartments, the monitor configured to monitor a state of the at least two compartments and provide digital signals with respect to the state of the at least two compartments providing the digital signals to a wireless transponder configuring the transponder to wirelessly communicate the signals to a wireless remote health monitoring station,

The method further comprising locating proximate to the medication dispenser a wireless user monitoring device that monitors and provides digital signals on a condition of the user, and configuring the user monitoring device to wirelessly communicate the user monitoring signals with the wireless remote health monitoring station.

The method further including providing alerts pertaining to a user condition communicated by the user monitor, and a state of aid at least two compartments.

The method further including integrating an audiovisual output with the dispenser and providing an audiovisual signal responsive to a state of the at least two compartments.

The method further including providing an audiovisual signal via the audiovisual output, the signal being responsive to the wireless remote health monitoring station.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is herein described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings. With specific reference now to the drawings in detail, it is stressed that the particulars shown are by way of example and for purposes of illustrative discussion of the preferred method of the present invention only, and are presented in the cause of providing what is believed to be the most useful and readily understood description of the principles and conceptual aspects of the invention. In this regard, no attempt is made to show structural details of the invention in more detail than is necessary for a fundamental understanding of the invention, the description taken with the drawings making apparent to those skilled in the art how the methods of the invention may be embodied in practice.

FIG. 1 shows a schematic view of a medication dispensing system in conjunction with a consumer health sensor, according to embodiments of the invention;

FIGS. 2-6B show alternative embodiments of the medication dispensing system shown in FIG. 1, according to embodiments of the invention; and

FIG. 7 shows a Flowchart of a medication dispensing, according to embodiments of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an autonomous and automatic personal medication dispensing system in conjunction with at least one consumer health sensor, some embodiments of which substantially ameliorate patient noncompliance while providing assurance of appropriate health monitoring and attention.

The principles and uses of the teachings of the present invention may be better understood with reference to the accompanying description, Figures and examples. In the Figures, like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout.

Before explaining at least one embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details set forth herein. The invention can be implemented with other embodiments and can be practiced or carried out in various ways.

It is also understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein is for descriptive purpose and should not be regarded as limiting.

Generally, the nomenclature used herein and the laboratory procedures utilized in the present invention include techniques from the fields of biology, engineering, material sciences, medicine and physics. Such techniques are thoroughly explained in the literature.

Unless otherwise defined, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which the invention belongs. In addition, the descriptions, materials, methods, and examples are illustrative only and not intended to be limiting. Methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the present invention.

As used herein, the terms “comprising” and “including” or grammatical variants thereof are to be taken as specifying the stated features, integers, steps or components but do not preclude the addition of one or more additional features, integers, steps, components or groups thereof. This term encompasses the terms “consisting of” and “consisting essentially of”.

The phrase “consisting essentially of” or grammatical variants thereof when used herein are to be taken as specifying the stated features, integers, steps or components but do not preclude the addition of one or more additional features, integers, steps, components or groups thereof but only if the additional features, integers, steps, components or groups thereof do not materially alter the basic and novel characteristics of the claimed composition, device or method.

As used herein, “a” or “an” mean “at least one” or “one or more”. The use of the phrase “one or more” herein does not alter this intended meaning of “a” or “an”.

The term “method” refers to manners, means, techniques and procedures for accomplishing a given task including, but not limited to, those manners, means, techniques and procedures either known to, or readily developed from known manners, means, techniques and procedures by practitioners of the chemical, pharmacological, biological, biochemical and medical arts. Implementation of the methods of the present invention involves performing or completing selected tasks or steps manually, automatically, or a combination thereof.

Medication Dispensing System

FIG. 1 shows a schematic view of a medication reminder and dispensing system 100. System 100 includes an electronic monitoring unit 184 having clips 166 that removably connect to a medication compartment 132. Compartment 132 includes medication berths 134A-134G containing medication 174B-174G. Hatches 136B-136G are in the closed positions.

In an exemplary embodiment, monitoring unit 184 includes a Computerized Processing Unit (CPU) 138 that includes a medication consumption data module. CPU 138 typically contains medication data related to, inter alia:

a) name of user;

b) dosage;

c) medication appearance; and

d) medication reaction symptoms requiring health provider notification.

CPU 138 is connected to an audiovisual display 172, powered by a power system 194, configured to visually demonstrate an image 178 of one or more medications. CPU 138 provides an audiovisual indication 168 that indicates which berth 134 to open and, optionally, a message 174 regarding consumption conditions, for example to consume “with milk”.

The term “conditions”, as used herein, refers to general directions for taking medication, including but not limited to, “take with food,” and/or is optionally based upon consumer medical history, for example, warning a diabetic to check blood sugar prior to taking a dose of insulin.

Additionally, display 172 includes a clock 142 that is synchronized with CPU 138 and optionally flashes a set period of time prior to consumption of medication 174. In the assembled position, compartment 132 connects to electronic unit 184 with clips 166, thereby aligning hatches 136A-136G with sensors 170A-170G.

Hatch Sensors

Upon opening hatch 136A, shown in the open position, a hatch sensor 170A registers the opening and transmits a signal to CPU 138. Should a consumer fail to open hatch 174A within a given period in conjunction following a signal to consume a medication, audiovisual display 172 provides one or more of a variety of demonstrations including, inter alia, sounds, vibrations, visual flashes and moving images.

Optionally, hatch sensor 170A senses when hatch 136A is opened partially, for example, in a manner that does not allow a user access to medication 174A. In such cases, hatch sensor 170A does not provide a hatch “open” signal, but either a null signal or a signal that hatch 136A has been improperly opened. CPU 138, in turn, signals audiovisual display 172 to provide a display that indicates that medication hatch 136A must be reopened and medication 174A removed.

Should the user open wrong hatch 170B, hatch sensor 170B registers opening and audiovisual display 172 immediately provides one or more of a variety of demonstrations noted above to direct the user to close wrong hatch 170B and, instead, open correct hatch 170A.

The term “medication” as used herein is intended to include any vitamin, mineral, substance or medicine, including tablets, capsules, powders and liquids of prescription and non-prescription items. In embodiments, aerosols, powders and liquids are packaged in easily opened discrete packages and dispensed from system 100.

Compartment Connection Memory

In an exemplary embodiment, system 100 includes detachment sensor 122 that senses when compartment 132 has been detached from unit 184 for example when the user wishes to take a walk without the necessity of carrying unit 172. Detachment sensor is programmed to communicate the detachment of clips 166 and to communicate to CPU 138 that a lack of movement of hatches 136 does not indicate non-compliance.

Upon the return of the user and the hook up of unit 172 with compartment 132, detachment sensor 122 updates CPU 138 on the state of dispenser, for example, that in a certain period of time, hatch 134E should be opened by the user.

Optionally, unit 184 includes sensors that sense when clips 166 are properly aligned with compartment 132 upon connection of compartment 132. Should clips 166 be, for example, in partial connection with compartment 174 that misaligns hatch sensors 170, CPU 138 provides an appropriate alert on audiovisual display 172 to remind the user to realign compartment 132 with unit 184.

Wireless Communication

In an exemplary embodiment, system 100 includes a unit transponder 176 that communicates wirelessly 146 with a local wireless relay 120, which, for example, is located within several to several tens of meters of unit 184 and communicates with system 100 via wireless signals 146.

Local wireless relay 120, in turn, communicates wirelessly 156 with a central processing data bank 188. In an exemplary embodiment, central data bank 188 is operatively associated with a health data bank 162 that is in wireless communication with at least one user monitor device 220, as defined below. Optionally, central processing data bank 188 communicates directly with unit transponder 176, thereby bypassing wireless relay 120; a user option provided, for example, to a user who is active and periodically takes unit 184 and compartment 132 out of range of wireless relay 120.

In an exemplary embodiment, data bank 188 is programmed by an operator and, thereafter, system 100 functions to ensure that the user has, in fact, complied with a given medication consumption schedule without intervention of the operator. In embodiments, system 100 and data bank 188 function in an autonomic and autonomous fashion, and initiate actions with respect to user non-compliance. Additionally or alternatively, system 100 and data bank 188 function under the observation of an operator as explained below.

In an embodiment, transponder 176 communicates wirelessly 248 with a cell phone 160 in a closed loop system so that phone 160 provides additional back-up to remind the user to take medication 174. Optionally, communication between transponder 176 and cell phone 160 and reminding a user to consume medication 174 occurs automatically and autonomically in a closed loop.

Automatically is defined as having a self-acting or self-regulating mechanism. Autonomically is defined as responding independently. (Miriam Webster Dictionary)

In embodiments, CPU 138 additionally provides messages to the consumer via cell phone 160 using least one of a SMS (Short Message Service) or MMS (Multi Media Service), or via Internet based messaging (such as in cellular telephones operating in GPRS networks).

The many means of initiating and maintaining closed loop reminders to the user via cell phone 160 are well known to those familiar with the art.

In embodiments, CPU 138 optionally provides messages to the consumer via WiMax, WiFi, Zigbee, USB wireless communication; the many wireless systems for communication being well known to those familiar with the art.

Remote Medication Preparation

In embodiments, hoppers 134 are loaded with medication 174 by a person familiar to the consumer at the consumer location, for example, in a private home.

In other embodiments, filling of system 100 with medication is in conjunction with central processing data bank 188. For example, hoppers 134 are loaded with medication 174 in proximity to data bank 188 and shipped to the user.

Alternatively, system 100 communicates to locations outside of system 100, for example, to a telephone located at a local pharmacy where hoppers 134 are loaded with medication 174. As changes in dosage and/or new informal ion on drug interactions become available on medication 174, the pharmacy is updated via a telephone. In this fashion, reminders to take medication 174, programming of CPU 138 and filling of compartment 132 are automatic and autonomic.

In embodiments, computer chips, not shown, are optionally provided to the user or the pharmacist and inserted into system 100 to interact with CPU 138, thereby updating system 100 on, inter alia, the medical state of the user, medication scheduling and/or changes in dosage.

Medication System Alerts

In an exemplary alternative embodiment central data bank 188 includes a screen 162 that provides a supervisor with a visual alert 192 that notifies the supervisor that medication 174 has not been consumed within a certain period of time.

In embodiments, after waiting a period of time for the user to respond to indicator 168, the operator initiates an inquiry to the user telephonically through cell phone 160 and/or a designated caretaker. With personal contact, visual inspection ensures that the user has not suffered an untoward health condition, for example a heart attack.

In an exemplary embodiment, unit 184 communicates wirelessly 248 with a cellular phone 160 that is carried by the user. If the user fails to take medication 174, a signal is transmitted wirelessly 148 so that phone 160 provides indicator 168 and or messages 192 to reinforce audiovisual display 172.

In an exemplary embodiment, following a given number of wireless communications 148, a wireless signal 158 or 146 is transmitted to central data bank 188 and an inquiry is made of the user as noted above.

User Monitoring

Referring to component system 102, system 100 optionally includes at least one user monitor device 220 that is operatively associated with wireless relay 120, for example, through a wireless signal 222.

User monitor device 220 typically receives a user parameter, for example, whether the user is in distress, has a high pulse rate, or has fainted. User monitor device 220 then communicates the parameter to local wireless relay 120 via wireless signal 222. The sensed parameter is then passed on to a central data bank 188 where the parameter is analyzed and appropriate action is initiated, either by central data bank 188 or via a supervisor associated with a health monitoring agency as noted below.

As used herein the term “central processing data bank 188” refers to any data bank including medication consumption information and/or user parameters with respect to user monitoring device 220.

Health Monitoring Service

By way of example only, the human operator is part of a health alert system, known in the art, for example “Lifeline”, a subsidiary of Philips Corporation. The devices offered by Lifeline include a personal health alert button that is worn around the neck, wrist, or another body part. In embodiments, the use presses the alert button when faced with symptoms of an apparent looming medical emergency. All information regarding the operation of “Lifeline” is hereby included in its entirety as if fully written herein.

In an exemplary embodiment, the human operator optionally assesses the user's current medical condition from the received information based upon user medical history, which is stored in remote central data bank 188.

In some embodiments, central data bank 188 acts as gateway, only alerting the operator when a parameter passes normal limits as indicated in the patient history. In other embodiments, for example, when device 220 is used in conjunction with an ECG monitor, a monitor 130 continually provides an ECG signal for observation by the operator.

In some embodiments, user monitor device 220 comprises a wrist-mounted sensor that, for example, senses pulse rate. Alternatively, user monitor device 220 is mounted, worn, carried or otherwise in contact with substantially any part of the body or in close proximity to the user body. As another non-limiting example, user monitor device 220 is optionally in the form of a necklace for being worn at the neck of the subject.

User monitor device 220 optionally includes a panic input that is activated by a user, alternatively or in addition, to sensor 220. In embodiments, panic button monitor device 220 is mounted on and/or connected to electronic monitoring unit 184.

Examples of parameters that are sensed by user monitor device 220 and or interpreted by central data bank 188 based upon information supplied by user monitor device, optionally include, inter alia: heart rate; heart rate variability; breathing rate; arrhythmia of the heart, general rhythm and functioning of the heart; blood pressure; presence of abnormal body movements such as convulsions for example; body position; general body movements; body temperature; presence and level of sweat; oxygen pressure in the blood.

In embodiments, central data bank 188 supports manual and/or automatic collection of the one parameter; and is able to execute one or more instructions for extracting medical information about the user when such measurements relate, for example, to a physiologic parameter.

In some embodiments, a human operator, optionally a trained medical person sees this information on central data bank monitor 130 and talks to the patient using cellular telephone 160 that communicates with the user either directly or through audiovisual display 172.

Additionally or alternatively, the operator receives and/or communicates with the user or other locations via a LAN (local area network) connection or an Internet connection. In embodiments, the operator communicates with the user via cell phone 160 using least one of a SMS or MMS, or electronic mail such as an e-mail message or facsimile, or Internet based messaging (such as in cellular telephones operating in GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks.

The many means of maintaining contact with the user while medical personnel proceed to the home of the user; and maintaining communication with medical personnel are well known to those familiar with the art.

In some embodiments, cell phone 160 includes an add-on video camera, such as in the case of 3G (third generation) cellular telephones, that enables a visual and audio conversation is made between the call center operator and the user.

In embodiments, communication with system 100 comprises an add-on to cell phone 160 with standard access, for example Bluetooth, IEEE 802.11 protocol or IRDA (Infrared Data Association).

Optionally, an alarm signal that communicates user distress is transmitted to family members, and/or caregiver, for example, by sending an SMS message to their cellular telephone or by a voice message.

In some embodiments, wireless link 248 between system 100 and cell phone 160 uses Home RF protocol or alternatively any other proprietary protocol using a RF link, any type of wireless infrared, or any other radio frequency protocol communication link.

In embodiments, local wireless relay 120 is located in proximity to unit 100, is connected to a standard power supply and has a broadcast range sufficient to communicate with data bank 188. In embodiments, local transponder performs additional duties in addition to monitoring system 100, for example providing monitoring of oxygen consumption in sleep apnea, and/or monitoring blood pressure.

System 200:

FIG. 2 shows an alternative embodiment for medication reminder and dispensing, comprising system 200 in which a disposable box comprising multiple compartments 132 slides onto a transverse support 266 including sensors 170.

System 300

FIG. 3 shows an alternative embodiment for medication reminder and dispensing, comprising system 300 that includes a base 320 to which multiple compartments 332 attach. Compartments 332 interconnect via transverse supports 266. In an exemplary embodiment, sensors 170 on base 320 are operatively associated with compartments 332.

System 400

FIG. 4 shows an alternative embodiment of the medication reminder and dispensing system of FIG. 3, comprising system 400 that includes a disposable box 412 with hatches 410 on medication compartments 432. Disposable box 412 is typically filled at a central facility and shipped to a user.

The user loads disposable box 412 on base unit 420 and base unit reads a bar code 414 on an identification label 416 which optionally includes user readable information 418, for example the name of the user.

Bar code 414 contains medication dispensing information, a first portion of which is displayed on a display 424 and a second portion of which directs box 400 to communicate with the central station regarding patient compliance. Additionally, base unit 420 includes a base board 426 having an array of sensors 422.

In alternative embodiments, identification label 416 includes a radio frequency (RF) identification tag and base unit 420 includes an RF reader which is displayed on display 424 and at the central station.

While system 400 is shown with 28 compartments 432, system 400 optionally has at least about five, 10 or 12 compartments 432. Alternatively, system 400 has no more than about 30, 50, 100 or even 300 compartments 432, each compartment 432 having one or more sensors 422 on baseboard 426.

FIG. 5A shows one embodiment of system 400 in which compartment 432 includes a curved floor 434 that directs medication 450 to sit over a sensor 422. Sensor 422 emits wireless reflecting radiant waves 421 that reflect off a medication 450, with a short reflection time indicating the presence of pill 450.

FIG. 5B shows radiant waves 421 reflecting off hatch 410 in the absence of medication 450, with the longer reflection time indicating that compartment 432 has been emptied of medication 450. Additionally or alternatively, sensors 422 are optionally configured to determine the position of hatch 410, as explained above.

Sensor 422 is optionally any variety of radiant wave transceivers that determine distance from any one of several reflected wireless waves 421, as described in the following patents, the entirety of which are incorporated herein by reference:

    • i) U.S. Pat. No. 6,181,645 (Li), which teaches Ultrasound waves 132;
    • ii) U.S. Pat. No. 5,266,955 (Izumi, et al), which teaches waves comprising a laser beam 132;
    • iii) U.S. Pat. No. 4,833,469 (David), which teaches a variety of sensors including, inter alia, optical image Split-light wave beams; and radar (Radio Detecting And Ranging) waves employing a short pulse of electromagnetic radiation;
    • iv) U.S. Pat. No. 4,165,936 (Eisenring et al), which teaches dual infrared light waves 132; and
    • v) U.S. Pat. No. 5,214,293 (MacNiel), which teaches a reflecting visible light wave.

Alternatively, sensor 422 is light sensor and the presence of medication 450 over sensor 422, light is blocked, thereby indicating the presence of medication 450. Upon removal of medication 450, the presence of ambient light signifies that medication 450 has been removed from compartment 432.

In embodiments, sensor 420 senses the ambient light after hatch 410 has been closed and hatch 410 is optionally, transparent or translucent; or contains one or more apertures that allow the transmission of light to sensor 422.

Alternatively, medication is weighed in each compartment 432 as is taught in U.S. Pat. No. 5,042,685 (Moulding, Jr., et al), the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference; an embodiment of which is seen in FIG. 6A which shows sensor 422 comprising a weighing platform 440 that is sensitive to the weight of medication 450.

Upon removal of medication 450, as seen in FIG. 6B, weighing platform 440 moves upward in a direction 426, indicating that compartment 432 has been emptied.

As shown, compartments 432 are about 25 millimeters on each of the X and Y axes. In alternative embodiments, compartments 432 are at least about 10 millimeters, 15 millimeters, or at least about 20 millimeters on the X and Y axes. In further embodiments, compartments are no more than about 30 millimeters, 40 millimeters, or even 50 millimeters on the X and Y axes. Additionally, compartments 432 may have different measurements along the X axis than along the Y axis, forming a substantially rectangular shape.

In further embodiments, compartments 432 have varied shaped, for example circular, triangular and/or polygonal, wherein the polygons have more than four sides, for example hexagonal shapes.

As shown, compartments are approximately 25 millimeters deep, on the Z axis. In alternative embodiments, compartments 432 are at least about 10 millimeters, 15 millimeters, or at least about 20 millimeters deep on the Z axis. In further embodiments, compartments are no more than about 30 millimeters, 40 millimeters, or even 50 millimeters deep on Z axis.

The many configurations of compartments 432 in terms of amount, size, and shape are readily understood by those familiar with the art.

In embodiments, at least a portion of box 412, and/or base unit 420 comprise a material selected from the group consisting of: polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane, nylon and a biocompatible polymer fiber.

In embodiments, at least a portion of box 412, and/or base unit 420 comprise a material selected from the group consisting of: metals, synthetic biostable polymer, a natural polymer, and an inorganic material. In embodiments, the biostable polymer comprises a material from the group consisting of: a polyolefin, a polyurethane, a fluorinated polyolefin, a chlorinated polyolefin, a polyamide, an acrylate polymer, an acrylamide polymer, a vinyl polymer, a polyacetal, a polycarbonate, a polyether, a polyester, an aromatic polyester, a polysulfone, and a silicone rubber.

In embodiments, the natural polymer comprises a material from the group consisting of: a polyolefin, a polyurethane, a Mylar, a silicone, and a fluorinated polyolefin.

The many materials from which box 412, and/or base unit 420 may be constructed are readily understood by those familiar with the art.

System 600

FIG. 7 shows a flowchart of a system 500 for use of disposable medication dispensing system 400 (FIGS. 4-6B).

At a new prescription order stage 610, a caregiver, for example a doctor, writes prescriptions for an end user and sends the prescription to a central dispensing station. At an order entry stage 612, the central station record the prescription in a data bank and, at a confirm and bill stage 614, the central station confirms that end user is eligible for receiving the medication, an example of which is taught in U.S. Pat. No. 6,088,429 (Garcia), the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

Optionally, at bill stage 614, a 3rd party payer is billed for the medications, such 3rd party payers including, inter alia, an insurance company and/or a welfare agency, for example Medicare in the United States. An example of an embodiment of an electronic billing system that bills directly for dispensed medications is taught in U.S. Pat. No. 6,757,898 (risen, et al), the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

The central station then sends the prescription to a loading stage 616 where the medication is loaded into a disposable medication box, for example box 420 seen in FIG. 4.

In embodiments, loading stage 616 includes electronically mechanized loading systems, for example pill loading robots, that load and package medication, and example of which is taught in U.S. Pat. No. 5,522,525 (McLaughlin, et al), the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

Additionally, the central station encodes medication dispensing information is on bar code 414 to be displayed on display 424.

Returning to FIG. 7, at a send stage 618, the central dispensing station sends the medication box to the end user. At a receive stages 620, the end user or a caregiver, for example a visiting nurse, loads disposable medication box 412 (FIG. 4) on base unit 420 and base unit reads bar code 414. At an instruction displayed stage 622 the end user is notified of proper times to take medication and, upon taking medication, a user monitoring stage 624 provides an update to the central station.

Communication provided at monitoring stage 624 optionally uses a wireless transponder noted above. Alternatively, communication is transmitted through a hardwire hookup to a telephone line. In still other embodiments, communication occurs through a hardwire hookup to a computer that transmits via the internet; the many ways of communicating medication updates being well known to those familiar with the art.

In the event that the information from user monitoring phase 624 indicates a failure to take medication, the central station proceeds to a monitoring alert stage 626 wherein the end user is contact verbally, for example telephonically. In the event that the end user does not respond to the verbal contact, the central station proceeds to a contact user stage 628 wherein physical contact, via a monitoring counselor, is made with the end user.

It is appreciated that certain features of the invention, which are, for clarity, described in the context of separate embodiments, may also be provided in combination in a single embodiment. Conversely, various features of the invention, which are, for brevity, described in the context of a single embodiment, may also be provided separately or in any suitable subcombination.

Although the invention has been described in conjunction with specific embodiments thereof, it is evident that many alternatives, modifications and variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art.

Accordingly, the invention is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variations that fall within the spirit and broad scope of the appended claims. All publications, patents and patent applications mentioned in this specification are herein incorporated in their entirety by reference into the specification, to the same extent as if each personal publication, patent or patent application was specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated herein by reference. In addition, citation or identification of any reference in this application shall not be construed as an admission that such reference is available as prior art to the present invention.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8055380 *Dec 1, 2009Nov 8, 2011Vandana VermaDaily pill dispensing apparatus
US8085135Jan 5, 2009Dec 27, 2011Michael Cohen AlloroMedication dispenser
US8725291 *Sep 13, 2010May 13, 2014IpcommMethod and apparatus for remote monitoring of daily dispensing of medication
US8752728Mar 26, 2012Jun 17, 2014Orbital Innovations, LlcPortable, time-release dosage form dispensing assembly
US20120035760 *Aug 5, 2011Feb 9, 2012Nathaniel Gerald PortneyDigital dispenser system
US20120065776 *Sep 13, 2010Mar 15, 2012Ipcomm LlcMethod and Apparatus for Remote Monitoring of Daily Dispensing of Medication
Classifications
U.S. Classification340/539.1, 700/240, 700/225, 700/231
International ClassificationG06F17/00, G06F7/00, G08B1/08
Cooperative ClassificationA61J2007/0436, A61J2007/0454, G06F19/3462, A61J7/0409, A61J2007/049, A61J2200/30
European ClassificationG06F19/34L1, A61J7/04B