Monitoring pioneer is at it again with 'smart' pill box

The creator of the personal emergency response system--think, "I've fallen and I can't get up," though that was a competitor's memorable slogan--is at it again. This time, 83-year-old psychologist-turned-entrepreneur Andrew Dibner is an investor and advisor in one of a gaggle of new companies marketing "smart" pill organizers to help people remember to take their medications.

The new firm, Newton, MA-based MedMinder, sells an Internet-enabled device called Maya--a textbook-sized unit with 28 pill cups, each designated for a particular time and day of the week. When it's time for a dose, a light below the appropriate cup flashes. Beeps start 30 minutes later and become more frequent over time. If the patient still hasn't taken the pills, Maya can call or email a reminder. The system sends out weekly and monthly reports to nurses and relatives to help monitor patient compliance.

Anecdotally, MedMinder reports compliance rising from 50 to 60 percent to more than 90 percent for Maya users. There's no scientific evidence yet, but the first clinical trial of the device is underway at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in Wellesley, MA.

To learn more about Maya and other medication reminder systems:
- check out this Boston Globe story