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Studies published this year have evaluated all kinds of approaches to help patients take their pills more consistently: pill bottles with a digital clock that acts like a stopwatch. Mailed reminders sent around New Year’s Day and a patient’s birthday. Pill bottles with a glowing cap, paired with lottery-style cash rewards and alerts sent to a friend or a family member.

None of those worked.


Poor medication adherence is a complex and vexing problem, driven by a mix of factors such as high costs, forgetfulness, indifference, and the sheer unpleasantness of being reminded that you’re sick. Its solution has eluded experts for decades — but you wouldn’t know it from the enthusiasm among investors. They’re pumping money into companies developing apps, software, smart pill bottles and boxes, and even a friendly yellow robot — all aimed at helping patients take their medications as prescribed.

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