KARIE: An Automated Medication Dispenser for Seniors Living at Home

Award Date: 2017

Project Lead(s): Lee Verweel

Project Title: Next-Generation Medication Dispenser to Improve Care at Home for Community-Dwelling Elderly

What is the issue?

Older adults often take multiple medications for several chronic conditions. Staying on track with various medication schedules is challenging, especially for seniors with cognitive impairment. Inappropriate use of medication leads to adverse events and more emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

What did we do?

The KARIE device, developed by AceAge, dispenses medication from pre-loaded blister packs of prescription drugs. The device chimes and lights up to remind seniors to take their medication and delivers the correct doses at the right time. It also monitors medication adherence, sends reminders, and notifies caregivers if their loved ones miss doses or take them late.

We designed a process for using KARIE with seniors discharged from a rehabilitation hospital. We asked seniors at West Park Healthcare Centre in Ontario and CapitalCare Group, Inc., in Alberta to try the device at home for 12 weeks.

What did we find?

Despite screening hundreds of seniors at both locations, only three from CapitalCare agreed to participate in our study. Reasons for not participating included unwillingness to switch pharmacies or learn how to use new technology and being happy with an existing medication management method.

The number of doses out of 100 taken on time ranged from 65 to 80. The device dispensed some doses early or late, and some users removed doses from the device manually. AceAge support, including creating a 24/7 helpline, ensured seniors were safe and had timely answers to questions.

Training sessions were important to ensure patients understand how to use all of the device functions. Open communication between the hospital pharmacist and the community pharmacist was essential for sharing information on updated prescriptions.

Family members of patients were extremely interested in the companion app that allowed them to manage their loved one’s medication and provide alerts on missed or late doses.