The Lee Memorial Home Health's Lifeline service began offering the Philips Medication Dispensing Service about four to six weeks ago for community members to reduce medication errors from occurring, helping patients money and giving caregivers peace of mind.
"We are pleased to introduce the Philips Lifeline Services to our community," Marjory May, vice president of post-acute care for Lee Memorial Health System said in a prepared statement. "In offering this service, we give seniors in our community a meaningful and needed way to reduce the risk of unplanned hospital or doctor visits related to incorrect medication use and help them remain independent at home."
The dispensing service is an addition to the Philips Lifeline Medical Alert service, which provides simple, fast access 24-hours a day, seven days a week with a push of a button that the Lee Memorial Health System already provides.
Home Health Telehealth Manager Cathy Brady said they are now really starting to get the word out about the automatic dispensing system that they recently acquired for the community. She said she took over the Lifeline program in April and found out about the dispensing system and felt it was something they should carry.
"This is really an excellent tool to keep people out of the hospital," she said. "It's phenomenal, and I really believe we can get theses units out in people's hands."
According to studies, when medication is not taken correctly it can cause serious consequences, which include increased discomfort, inadequate disease prevention and death.
Brady said a caregiver fills the system with the required dosage of the medication their loved one needs, as well as the times in which they need to take their pills. The patient hits a red button to dispense the medication once the device tells him or her that it is time to take their pill, as well as acknowledging that they heard the reminder.
"When the system is filled, besides giving the patient medicine, it would also give the patient reminders," she said. "It will take up to 60 activities at one time. If you don't want to give any reminders, it will hold up to 60 dosage cups."
If there is one reminder a day, one dosage cup will be eliminated, she said because those reminders take up some of the activity space.
A message can also be included with the reminders if the medication should be taken with or without food, or with extra fluids.
"There are 23 messages that you can put in there," Brady said.
If for some reason the individual does not take his or her medication, they will be reminded for 90 minutes, 45 minutes of which includes a beeping sound that can be heard throughout the house to get their attention.
For example, Brady said, if an individual takes medication at four different times throughout the day, the caregiver can set the time for 8 a.m., 12 p.m., 4 p.m. and again at 8 p.m. After the medication remains in the holding tray for 90 minutes for the 8 a.m. time - 9:30 a.m. - the medicine is dropped into a holding bin so it is not taken too close to the next dose.
The machine then will send a message to the caregiver over the phone, which requires them to punch the number one indicating they received the message that the dosage of medication was not taken.
She said whoever sets this up could give as many responders' names as they choose.
If there is four missed dosages, they all go into a holding bin, Brady said, adding that the machine is going to cut off and stop, send a message to the caregiver and they will have to clear the cups and start the operation again.
Once the medication is initially placed in the dispenser into plastic cups that are easy to get into, the caregiver locks the system and the client cannot get in there and change their medication.
"It does tell you when it is time to reload the med dispenser," she said.
In the case of a problem with the medicine dispenser, Brady said an error message will be sent to the caregiver and whomever else is on the contact list.
The system also entails a feature for the caregiver to push a button if the patient needs to receive medicine early because they are being taken to the doctor's office, for example.
In terms of pain medication, Brady said the caregiver can punch in how often the pain medication is given, which will not allow the patient to receive the pain medication before then as a safety precaution.
The one-time installation cost of the unit is $80, which includes training. The monthly expense for the system is $80, which does not include a contract.
"We teach the caregiver how to load the dispensing tray," Brady said, adding that the machine talks them through how to put the medicine in the machine as well.
The device, which is 13-inches tall, includes an 18-hour battery back up for the equipment.
For more information, call 239-418-2925.
Brady said they will get the device out as quickly as possible for those interested in the service.
"Within a couple of days at least, if not within 24 hours, not a promise, but that is our goal," she said.