(CBS) - Getting patients to take their pills is a big problem in the medical field. With complex illnesses come multiple prescriptions and complicated instructions that patients can find hard to follow.
A pharmacy group reports that failing to take medications properly adds about $290 billion a year to healthcare costs, and it's estimated to cause 125,000 premature deaths annually in the U.S. alone.
"It's arguably the most costly problem in healthcare today," said Josh Stein, CEO and co-founder of AdhereTech. His New York-based company has invented a possible solution: a smart pill bottle with built-in cell phone technology that alerts you to take your medication when you are supposed to.
"Every time the patient opens the bottle, the bottle sends two pieces of data to our servers. Number one, the timestamp of the open and close of the cap, and number two a measurement of the amount of medication remaining in the bottle," said Stein.
AdhereTech's bottle flashes blue when a user should take their medication, and if they miss their dose it flashes red and beeps.
The patient also gets another alert with an automated phone call or text message.
Taking the right pill at the right time improves health and saves money in the long run.
"It is a huge problem in terms of cost because the more non-compliant that patients are, the more chronic their medical issues become, and the higher the costs," said Dr. Jon LaPook, CBS News chief medical correspondent.
Right now the device is being tested in clinical trials.
AdhereTech will be working with drug manufacturers to provide the bottle when patients fill their prescriptions. The company's business model is to distribute high-cost speciality medications in the bottle for diseases such as, HIV, hepatitis C and certain types of cancers.
The smart pill bottle could be available to the public next year.
© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Posted by Melissa Brunner