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Comparison: Automated Medication Dispensers

*Updated 12/11/2018

Seniors often take a combination of different medications to manage different health conditions and keep symptoms at bay.

Remembering to take the right meds at the right time is challenging, especially as the number of medications increases over time. Missing doses or taking too many doses can be dangerous.

In fact, Philips, the makers of LifeLine, states that 1 out of 10 hospital visits are the result of taking the wrong meds. An automatic system reduces hospital visits due to missed or overdosed meds.

Automated Medication Dispensers Provide Peace Of Mind

For seniors, an automatic pill dispensing system takes the stress out of remembering medication doses. Loved ones can relax knowing the system will issue a reminder when the next dose is due, and that the dose will come ready measured so there is no chance of taking the wrong amount. Using an automatic pill dispenser helps support independence in the home.

For caregivers, knowing their loved one has a system at hand for keeping track of meds, is a relief. They get peace of mind knowing that even if they are not there, their loved one's medications are measured and ready to be dosed out at the right time. Some pill dispensers also offer monitoring options for caregivers who want to keep a closer watch on their loved ones.

There are several automated medication dispensers on the market, so which one should you choose? Here are four systems we think you’ll find useful.

Automated Pill Dispensers Comparison Chart

The comparison chart below shows a quick comparison of each of the systems we looked at. Keep reading for more in-depth reviews and differentiating features of each pill dispensing system.

Company Doses Upfront Cost Monthly Fee
MedaCube 20x/day $0 $59.00 (other payment options avail)
Philips 6x/day $0 $59.95
MedReady 4x/day $149 $16.00
Livi 24x/day $0 $79.00
E-pill Accutab 3x/day $39.95 $0

Philips Automated Dispensing Service

Philips automated medication dispenser.
Philips automated medication dispenser: Photo courtesy of Philips Lifeline.

Philips Automated Dispensing Service is a subscription service with real-time monitoring options.

Doses: Caregivers or nurses load medications into up to 60 cups. Depending on the amount of medication, the system is good for up to 40 days of doses, and can handle six different doses per day.

Features: The user hears an alarm when it is time to take a medication. They press a button, and the machine dispenses the appropriate pills.

What we love are the monitoring features. Philips Automated Dispensing Service is linked to the phone line (it also works on VOIP) and will issue alerts to caregivers if doses are missed, if there is a dispenser error or power outage, or if medications need refilling.

The system also offers a pre-program option for on-demand or PRN meds, so seniors can request doses safely.

Cost: $59.95 per month

MedaCube

With MedaCube, you can load up to 90 days worth of medications.
With MedaCube, you can load up to 90 days worth of medications.

MedaCube is an automated medication dispenser that can hold up to 90 days worth of medications. MedaCube is the only medication dispenser on the market that has been clinically proven to improve medication adherence. See our in-depth review of MedaCube here.

Doses: Can hold up to 90 days worth of medications in the internal bins.

Features: The system alerts the user when it’s time to take their scheduled medication. All the user has to do when they hear the alert is touch the screen on the MedaCube, and a drawer pops out with their medication dose ready to take.

If the dose is missed, MedaCube sends another alert ten minutes later. Caregivers (and any other members of a “care team”) receive alerts whenever a dose is late or missed, and they can view a secure record of all doses dispensed (and which ones were missed or late) via MedaCube’s secure web portal.

Cost: Several pricing options available:

  • A one time no-contract purchase of $1,499
  • A lease-to-own arrangement of $59 monthly for 36 months
  • A cancel-anytime rental contract of $99 monthly

MedReady 1700 Automatic Dispenser

med ready automatic medication dispenser.
Med Ready automatic medication dispenser. Photo courtesy of Med Ready.

MedReady offers a reasonably priced basic option, with a monitored version (MedReady 1750 PLUS) available for a little extra investment.

Doses: Holds up to 28 doses and can dispense up to four times a day.

Features: This is an easy to use basic unit that comes with an AC power adapter, rechargeable battery, and a locking lid to prevent double doses.

MedReady 1750 PLUS is plugged in to the user’s phone line. Dose updates are posted to a secure website which caregivers can access. If a dose is missed, the unit alerts the call center, who will call up to three emergency numbers.

Cost: $149, or $159 for the MedReady 1700FL which is equipped with a flashing light as well as an audio alarm. MedReady 1750 PLUS costs $207 plus a $16 per month monitoring fee.

Livi

Livi automated medication dispenser.
Livi automated medication dispenser. Photo courtesy of Livi.

Livi is another subscription service, which can handle several different types and shapes of pill.

Doses: Can handle up to 15 types of pill, and dispenses up to 24 times per day. Stores up to 90 days worth of medication depending on dose and number of pills. We like that it handles non standard sized pills (some systems only handle aspirin sized tablets.)

Features: Livi has an easy-pour system which lets caregivers pour each kind of pill into the machine without the need for hand sorting. The unit works for on-demand as well as regularly scheduled medications. The unit can even dispense up to 14 days worth of pills into travel packs for help with medication doses away from home. Caregivers have access to an online portal where they can manage dosing and alerts.

Cost: Livi offers different packages depending on the amount of medication taken each day. The basic plan is good for up to 10 medications per day and one caregiver has access to the unit as a rental subscription for $79 a month. The standard plan is good for up to 15 medications a day and gives multiple caregivers access for $99 a month.  Optionally, you can buy the system outright for $1,999 to do away with the monthly subscription fees.

E-Pill Accutab Undershelf Dispenser

E-pill Accutab medication dispenser.
E-pill Accutab medication dispenser. Photo courtesy Epill.

E-pill offers a basic non-electric model that is geared more towards mobility issues (such as arthritis) than memory issues.

Doses: Up to three times a day for one week. Compartments are suitable for large medications or supplements.

Features: The Accutab simply slides under any countertop. It was designed to make medication management easy for those who perhaps do not struggle with remembering meds, but struggle with opening bottles and packets. Users simply slide a lever and the pills drop out into their hand. There is also a handy “last dose taken” indicator to make it easy to keep tabs on what has been taken and what has not.

Cost: $79.95, one time cost, currently on sale for $39.95.

Whether you need monitoring, independence both in and away from home, or a simpler solution for medication dispensing, there should be something on this list to suit you. Investing in an automated medication dispensing system means peace of mind for seniors and caregivers, and much less risk of medication mistakes and hospital visits as a result.

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