Electronic medicine dispensers are beneficial for both patients and healthcare personnel. “If we put the effort in now, we will reap the rewards later”, says healthcare consultant Mona Elise Kristoffersen.

 

“This isn’t happening in some distant future. It’s happening right now.”

As a consultant, Mona Elise Kristoffersen develops digital healthcare solutions for Sarpsborg municipality in Norway. She knows that an ageing population is changing the government’s perspective on healthcare.

“We must accept that we’re getting older. Healthcare resources are depleting, and the kinds of help people need are changing. Digitisation has become a necessity”, she says.

To meet the demands for both quantity and quality of healthcare, Sarpsborg municipality offers electronic medication support to patients at home.

 

Quality time with the patient

The municipality has been using electronic medicine dispensers since 2009. Today, they use Dignio’s Pilly SMS and Medido. Once they are stocked by healthcare personnel, the dispensers let the patients know when they need to take their medicine. Personnel or relatives are notified if a patient misses a day.

The dispensers have changed the way healthcare personnel work, says Kristoffersen.

Twenty dispensers in use can completely free up one healthcare worker, who would otherwise be travelling from patient to patient to give out medication.

“Nurses don’t want to go back to driving back and forth, visiting the same patient up to four times a day. Patient contact is good, but the amount of travelling took up so much valuable time,” says Kristoffersen.

She was working as a nurse when the municipality first started to use medicine dispensers.

“When our travel time was reduced, we were able to have longer follow-up meetings and give better quality care to our patients. Daily visits equalling high quality care is a common misconception,” she says.

We bring patients and healthcare professionals closer together. Read more about Dignio’s remote care services

Medications at the right time

The dispensers have several benefits.

  • They minimisethe riskof patients and healthcare workers being exposed to COVID-19.
  • Patients can take their medicine themselves, as they’re not waiting forhome visits. This encourages people to take a more active role in their own care.
  • With access to an electronic medicine dispenser at home, it’s also easier for patients to take their medicine at the right time.

“Despite their best efforts, healthcare personnel can’t guarantee to be on-time to every appointment they have. Often patients who require urgent attention will need to be prioritised, which means having to move their schedule around,” the adviser explains. This can mean patients are left without their medicine at the time they should be taking it.

The patient gets a far better effect when medicine is taken at the right time, according to Kristoffersen. For example, painkillers are most effective when taken before pain starts, to allow time for the medicine to begin working. Another example is Parkinson’s:

“Patients with Parkinson’s must take several daily doses at a specific time to prevent symptoms,” she says.

Investing time

Although the dispensers free up personnel time, Kristoffersen emphasises that they are not a quick fix. It will take time to make changes to the system, and see them work long-term.

“We live in an age where everything is quickly available to us, but it takes time and preparation to get to that point, especially regarding dispensers,” she says.

Healthcare personnel must still program the dispenser and fill it with medication. The patient must learn how to use it and be closely monitored at first. Patients with cognitive impairment may need more time to learn.

“If we put the effort in now, we will reap the rewards later”” she says.

We bring patients and healthcare professionals closer together. Read more about Dignio’s remote care services

Dignio’s solutions

The electronic medicine dispensers make a sound when the medicine is to be taken, then registers whether or not it has been removed.

Pilly, Dignios smallest medication dispenser

Both Pilly SMS and Medido notify home nurses, relatives or the patients themselves via SMS if the medicine is not taken out. Both dispensers are connected to the administration system Dignio Prevent, where health personnel have access to all it’s data.

Pilly SMS is an automatic dispenser that contains 28 small chambers to hold medication. It makes a sound when medication is to be taken, which is then released by simply turning the device upside down. It’s compact, easy to carry and discreet, preventing it from appearing stigmatising or revealing.

Medido is a larger dispenser that automatically delivers individualised bags containing multiple doses of medication. It alerts with a sound and light when medication is to be taken, which is then released when the large ‘OK’ button is pressed. Medido also has a discreet design and blends easily into any interior. It weighs around two kilograms and is also portable.