A Techie's Guide to Staying Healthy (Wall Street Journal)
By WILL MORTON
Remembering to take medication exactly 12 hours apart proved a frustrating struggle for Lisa Crosby of Truckee, Calif. The 40-year-old mother of three teaches high-school math, writes literacy books, runs a property-management business and coaches soccer, so it would be easy for her to miss a dose of medication she takes for a thyroid condition. Ms. Crosby says it would take weeks to get back on track after missing medicine. She found a $100 wristwatch
from e-pill LLC
, Wellesley, Mass., with alarms she can set up to six times a day. "It's a huge, huge de-stresser for me," she says.
E-pill offers dozens of products, from a $40 keychain reminder
with six alarms to a $750 coffee-machine-size automatic pill dispenser
, which phones a designated caregiver if a dose is missed.
The reminder watch can go off up to six times a day, and it vibrates discreetly or beeps. Set on vibrate, the watch startled me until I got used to it. Maybe I got a little too used to it: I set it to buzz on the hour once and missed it when I was on the phone. On the other hand, the alarm woke me up in the night
-- it vibrates 20 times in 20 seconds -- and I'm a deep sleeper. It looks like a regular men's digital watch, prompting a female co-worker to say she probably wouldn't wear it with a suit to work. BUSINESS 2.0 Story Shake And Wake. More Vibrating Alarm & Timer
Anne Lightner, a 10-year-old diabetic in Richardson, Texas, says she kept forgetting to test her blood sugar, and her parents worried whether her teachers could remind her. The e-pill watch
, which Anne heard about at summer camp, helps her sort out her snacks and meals. "Now it's complete order," Anne says.
Another e-pill gadget, the
$50 pillbox alarm
, can go off only on the hour or half-hour between 6 a.m. and midnight -- a total of 37 times a day -- and it has seven compartments to hold the day's pills. It was loud enough to startle co-workers several desks away. That's got to make it hard to forget your pills.
Cynthia Rand, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, says devices that make it easier to remember "are one useful tool." But she warns that having a pill reminder doesn't guarantee patients will take their medication. Patients, she says, miss treatments because it's inconvenient, they don't like taking lots of pills, or they're confused about what to take when.
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