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The medication management device restoring people’s independence

One UK company is taking an innovative approach to helping the elderly keep on top of their medication.

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The YOURmeds medicines dispenser

For a lot of people old age can bring a range of health conditions that need to be managed, shown by the fact that on average people over 65 take eight medicines a day.

Staying on top of this is often a difficult task for the elderly, but one solution can be found from UK-based firm YOURmeds.

The portable device is an all-in-one medication management system that not only supports patients but engages with their carer network as well.

Through the use of audio and visual reminders its users are alerted as to when they need to take their medication.

The innovation comes when a number appears on the device’s interface meaning people can easily identify which medicines they need to take, meaning errors drop significantly.

Those who support these patients are also alerted through the system’s mobile app which can also provide clinicians with data to help assess its effectiveness.

The same happens if someone misses their medication, giving those who support these people the opportunity to engage and ensure peace of mind.

Each device is pre-packed by a pharmacist and then delivered directly to the patient’s door, taking another burden away from patients, family and friends.

Its simplicity is what makes the product so useful for the elderly, with YOURmeds’ head of sales Priti Patel saying using it is like ‘opening an advent calendar.’

Current adherence rates for medications from the NHS are around 50 per cent, but this can be as high as 80 per cent when using the dispenser.

“In terms of why taking your medications on time is so important,” Priti said. “It’s all about trying to make sure that you remain within the therapeutic range, so the medication can control your condition.

“For example this is the case for a Parkinson’s cohort, as they have very time-sensitive medication.

“We generally work with councils and care organisations across the UK to help support them to improve their medication adherence, replacing medication only visits wrapped up with personal care as providers often require a 30 minute visit as a minimum. 

“West Lothian Council reported a nine times return on investment by using YOURmeds.”

“But with YOURmeds you’ve got a piece of technology that’s really easy to use, people who aren’t technology literate can use this because it’s so simple.”

For older people this sort of technology brings independence.

They are empowered to manage their own drug course and because of its portability they can do this from anywhere.

“If they don’t have YOURmeds set up, you’re waiting around for someone to come to your house to help you take your medication,” Priti said. “You can take our device with you and not confined to your house, waiting around for carers to turn up.

“This is putting that power back into the individuals, they’re able to manage their own medication.

“Often medication is the first thing that is taken away from people, but with this you can give that independence back to that individual and with their support network, they’re helped to take the right medication at the right time.”

This impact has not gone unnoticed, with YOURmeds winning the AgeTech accelerator programme last year which has helped open up the European market to them.

Its technology has also been particularly useful in the last year, with the pandemic increasing the need for remote monitoring systems.

The elderly population are at the highest risk when it comes to COVID-19 and with a lot of them undertaking long periods of isolation, providing reassurance to family members that they are on top of their medication has been vital

Nitin Parekh, director at YOURmeds, outlined the role it has played over the past year.

“There’s a huge element of safety to YOURmeds,” Nitin said. “Because you’re not sending someone into people’s houses so there’s no risk of infection.

“It’s coming from a pharmacist who is regularly tested, so there’s a strong safety angle which I don’t think is going to go away even when COVID is no longer in the headlines.”

Virtual wards are one of the key results of the pandemic with YOURmeds set to help these by providing data around medication adherence.

Priti says this can help these wards create a 360 degree view of a patient’s health.

“If you haven’t got that medication information how can you measure, for example, that someone’s blood pressure has gone up?” she said. “Maybe it went up because they didn’t take their meds.

“You’re missing a really large piece of the jigsaw if you don’t have that data, so we are happy to link up with companies to help feed that into their platform.”

Furthermore carers are often those who suffer in the background through all this, particularly family members.

The worry that loved ones aren’t taking their medication correctly happens all too often but YOURmeds gives families that peace of mind.

It also stops that panic around a visit to an elderly family member, with a lot of the feedback the company has received from carers saying it has allowed them to spend more quality time together.

Carers can also get their independence back with YOURmeds, allowing some to return to work and significantly reduce their stress levels.

Currently the company is working with councils and care homes to get the device implemented across the sector.

However there has been interest across the globe from places like Australia to Canada.

This is a simple and universal solution that is not only making medication management seamless but also, as Nitin said, ‘giving people their life back.’

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