Purchasing a safe and reliable pill dispenser is a very important decision. Whether you are a caregiver or a person that needs assistance in adhering to a medication schedule, the right dispenser will provide much-needed peace of mind.
These days, automatic dispensers are the way to go. Not only are affordable models available, but the fact they are able to alert the patient to medication time, in increasingly sophisticated ways also makes them by far the safest option.
When looking to buy an automatic pill dispenser there are some important factors to think about. The capacity of the device in terms of how many days you can program pill allocation should definitely be considered.
If the patient has to take several pills a number of times daily, the higher the capacity (as in the number of pill slots) the better.
Then there is the dexterity of the patient. Some dispensers have sloping pill trays so that the medication can easily be grasped. Med stations go even further and actually drop the medication into an awaiting cup.
Overall ease of use and versatility are also vital. Both caregiver and patient should be able to load the device and program the schedule without confusion.
Security is also a major consideration. The dispenser should be tamper-proof so that medication can not be taken outside of scheduled times. Safe battery backup so that there is no downtime is also important.
In this review roundup, we will take a close look at 5 market-leading dispensers that successfully cover the above points. With a range of features and price points among them, you should certainly find a device that meets your needs.
Our Top 5 Picks
Automatic Pill Dispenser Reviews
1. BEST BUDGET: LiveFine Automatic Pill Dispenser
Being on a tight budget, doesn’t mean that you can’t purchase a quality automatic pill dispenser that is safe, reliable, and easy to use.
And let’s face it, whether you are buying one for yourself or a loved one, those three variables are all you need.
So let’s take a closer look at the LiveFine Automatic dispenser, our top budget pick for 2022.
Firstly, the dispenser has a more than adequate 28-Slot motorized carousel that is fully programmable to deliver scheduled medicines.
If the patient is hard of hearing or not necessarily in the room when it is time to take the medicine, the unit will give off an audible and visual alert that will last for a whole 30 minutes until the relevant slot has been opened.
The process for this couldn’t be easier, with the alert sounded, the slot is unlocked. Just flip the lid and remove the pills.
The LiveFine Automatic Pill Dispenser is extremely versatile too. Multiple templates can be used to create a delivery schedule. It also allows for a completely customized schedule too.
Up to 6 alerts per day can be created, with the exact time being allocated for each alert. Furthermore, the high-capacity slots can accommodate up to 18 asperin sized pills, providing the ability to create a full 28-day schedule, before the need to refill.
If you are a caregiver this is the peace of mind you need. Another great feature is the lock and key mechanism that is designed to provide overdose protection. Medication is simply not available outside of prescribed times.
Add all of this to the fact the unit is extremely easy to use (a large front panel LCD screen is the main interface with all buttons being on the face of the unit) and you have an excellent automatic pill dispenser for the price.
The LiveFine Automatic Pill Dispenser is our top budget pick for good reason. Not only is it sold an affordable price point, it also delivers in terms of all the features you need from a safe and reliable dispenser.
It is also easy to use and has a high capacity, both in terms of the number of pills each slot can hold, (18) and the number of days it can be programmed for, (28). Highly recommended.
2. Med-E-Lert™ Premium Locking Automatic Pill Dispenser with Solid White Lid Only
The Med-E-Lert automatic pill dispenser is another budget unit worthy of our top 5. While it lacks some of the features of our top budget pick from LiveFine, there is still a lot to like here for the price.
Firstly, this is another high capacity dispenser capable of holding 18 aspirin size pills in each slot, with a program duration of 28 days. That’s 504 pills in total. If you’re a caregiver, knowing that a patient has so many days pills set up in advance can be a real stress reliever… unless the patient is prone to prying the lid off these things.
That being said, the Med-E-Lert tries to lessen the risk of tampering and unscheduled pill consumption, with the unique, custom barrel design. This makes it a lot more difficult to access medication ahead of time.
The alert system on the Med-E-Lert Automatic Pill Dispenser is good too. Featuring 6 alarms and 6 dosage rings, the unit has no problems gaining the attention of the patient when medication is due.
A clever addition also comes from built-in smart memory. Even after the batteries fail, the dispenser will retain its programmed settings ready for when it is next powered up.
As this is an upgrade to an earlier model, Med-E-Lert has made some minor tweaks to the design that are worth mentioning.
Now there is a new locking mechanism in place, with a sturdier gear design. They have also updated the alarm cut-off switch after dispensation. Improved tray alignment also ensures that everything is delivered reliably and with ease.
The Med-E-Lert came close to getting our top budget pick for 2022. It manages to balance the price point with features and design quality very well indeed.
If the LiveFine doesn’t quite take your fancy, this is well worth checking out instead.
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3. MedReady 1700 Medication Dispenser, with Flashing Light (1700FL)
The MedReady is another high-capacity dispenser that we found worthy of our top 5 for 2020.
Here up to 28 days of medication can be dispensed, with a daily allocation between 1 and 4 times. (This is less than our top budget pick from LiveFine, which can dispense up to 6 times a day.)
It is also important to note that the more you dispense daily, the fewer days it will work for. Here is a break down of what that means in real terms:
1x/day = 28 days of meds
2x/day = 14 days of meds
3x/day = 9 days of meds
4x/day = 7 days of meds.
9 small aspirin size pills can be held in each slot, again less than the majority of the other dispenser reviewed here, however, this is a smaller unit.
A low-frequency alarm will sound when pills are due to be taken. This is accompanied by flashing light that will blink on and off for 30 minutes.
Once the patient has opened the med door to expose the medication, the alert will stop.
A nice design element that I especially liked on the MedReady is the sloped exit ramp on the med tray. This makes it much easier for a user with dexterity issues, there’s no grappling inside the tray trying to retrieve the pills.
The included rechargeable battery pack keeps everything running, however, the unit can also be plugged into the mains so that the batteries remain charged.
In case of a power outage, the dispenser will continue to dispense for up to 72 hours on the battery alone.
Tamper-resistant security measures have been built into the device. However, this particular model cannot be connected to a network for remote alert to caregivers. It is not a smart unit in other words. (These are available from MedReady – their more expensive models do feature monitoring functionality).
Another final plus point is the fact the device is manufactured by MedReady in Torrance California and therefore made in the USA. For us patriots, that’s always a bonus. It also makes it a lot simpler to have serviced if and when you need it.
Overall the MedReady 1700 is a great pill dispenser. What it lacks in size and capacity is makes up for in features and design. That sloped exit ramp is a great little addition, as is the capability to keep batteries charged on the fly. It’s also made in the USA. Plenty of reasons to like it basically.
4. BEST MED STATION: e-Pill MedTime Station with Tipper Base
If you are looking for a fully-fledged med station for you or the one you are caring for, the e-Pill MedTime is currently the best on the market (in our humble opinion).
At a price that doesn’t break the bank, this is packed with features and has a really sturdy design that prioritizes safety and ease of use over everything else.
As we all know, the great thing with a Med Station is the extra convenience of having the pills dispensed into a cup at the exact time you have programmed.
This helps patients with dexterity issues, while also helping to make medication time, faster, and stress-free.
As with all the automatic dispensers to make our top 5, the e-Pill MedTime Station is fully programable so that the correct pills are taken on a strict schedule.
It has the capability to provide up to 6 daily alarms with accompanying sound and visual notification.
As with the other units in our top 5, the device has a 28-compartment tray, providing up to 28 days of use depending on the number of daily dispensing you have requested.
Each compartment has the capacity to hold up to 18 Aspirin-sized Pills.
While in use, the pills are automatically dispensed via the tipper base into the stainless-steel medicine cup.
For the patient, this results in easy, no-spill dispensing. Much more convenient than traditional automatic dispensers.
If you are looking for an easier, more convenient way to take your medication, a Med Station is definitely the way to go.
And in our opinion, e-Pill is the one to buy. Its sturdy design with great features and high-capacity in terms of the pill dispensing amount and duration, make for a high-quality device that won’t disappoint.
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5. BEST SMART DISPENSER: e-Pill MedSmart Voice Plus, Bluetooth Enabled
The final automatic pill dispenser in our top 5 is this Smart device also from e-Pill.
Being a smart device there are some sophisticated features on offer here. And while it will not suit all users (you can use a smartphone to operate the unit and it has a Bluetooth connection); for those looking for a device that can tap into such capabilities, this is definitely worth a look.
In terms of capacity and overall function, it is very similar to the other dispenser reviewed above.
So let’s get straight to how a smart device will benefit you.
First off, the e-Pill MedSmart Voice Plus makes it possible to track and review dosage records via a free iOS (iPhone) or Android app.
This is great for a caregiver. You can check using your phone to see if the medication is being taken on time and in the correct amounts.
Be aware, however, the unit does not access WiFi, so you do need to be within 33 feet of the device to access the records. Once you have retrieved them, however, the records will be in the app for you to look at whenever convenient.
The Bluetooth capability also means you can program the dispenser straight from the app.
The unit also has a voice alert system, making it more likely the patient will hear and adhere to medication time.
Up to 6 daily alarms can be set, with voice notification calling out: “It’s time for your medications”. Blinking lights will also accompany this.
The unit is battery and mains powered but will run for a whole 2 months on a full charge.
E-Pill also throws in a 1-year warranty, from their USA-based head office in Boston Massachusetts.
If you or your patient are more technically minded, the e-Pill MedSmart Voice Plus is a fantastic option. Program and review records straight from your smartphone, have a voice alert to gain the attention of the patient when it is time to take the pills.
I happen to love smart style advancement in regular medical devices. In my mind the developments make for great improvement over the functionality of these units. Highly recommended.
Automatic Pill Dispenser Buyer’s Guide
The benefits of using an automatic pill dispenser
Essentially, automatic pill dispensers help ensure patients do not forget to take their medications. They offer peace of mind to carers and family members where a patient is not under observation 24/7.
A good device will aid the patient in taking the correct dose at the right time. Furthermore, they are better than a traditional pillbox as you can load the dispenser and program dosing for anything between 28 to 90 days, (dependent on the unit and the amount of medication being taken).
They help prevent two doses being taken too close together or the wrong dose or medication being consumed. They are also tamper-proof, so medication cannot be taken outside of the prescribed time.
What to look for when buying an automatic pill dispenser
Pill capacity is one of the most important issues to consider when buying an automatic pill dispenser. How frequently does the medication need to be taken?
A single pill daily, clearly requires fewer compartments within the dispenser when compared to a patient that takes multiple pills every day.
More compartments also allow for the device to be loaded for a greater number of days. This means a longer space of time between refills and more peace of mind for the carer.
Sound & Visual Alarm
Most devices have an audible alarm, while others will have both audio and visual. The latter is recommended where the patient might be hard of hearing, as the visual alarm will continue to alert after the audio is finished.
The ability to adjust the volume is also beneficial (again for the hard of hearing), as is the type of sound that is emitted as part of the alert.
A loud, piercing alarm may disturb a patient suffering from dementia. In this scenario, a device that has the option of a less shrilling alert or even something pre-recorded would be beneficial.
Some pill dispensers come with a locking mechanism on the pill compartments. This prevents the patient from gaining access to medication outside prescribed times.
This is an important feature to have as it helps reduce the risk of overdosing or the incorrect administration of pills. If the patient has cognitive impairments or the dispenser is being used by someone with addiction problems, this lock could save their life.
In cases such as this, a key or passcode is kept by the caregiver so that they are the only ones to have access for refilling purposes.
Premium automated pill dispensers can actually link up to WiFi so that the caregiver can remotely check whether pills have been taken and at the right time.
Alerts can also be set so that the device notifies the caregiver via text after the medication has been consumed. Remote monitoring will also help inform the caregiver when the device needs to be refilled.
An automated pill dispenser that is both mains and battery operated is recommended as this means a patient will have access to their medication even in a blackout, or conversely if the battery charge is lost.
- “Development of an Intelligent Pill Dispenser Based on an IoT-Approach” International Conference on Human Systems Engineering and Design: Future Trends and Applications IHSED 2019: Human Systems Engineering and Design II, pp 33-39
- “Pill-Dispensing Studies in health technology and informatics“, 2007 – books.google.com
- N. B. Othman and O. P. Ek, “Pill dispenser with alarm via smartphone notification,” 2016 IEEE 5th Global Conference on Consumer Electronics, Kyoto, 2016, pp. 1-2, doi: 10.1109/GCCE.2016.7800399.
- A. Jabeena, A. K. Sahu, R. Roy, and N. S. Basha, “Automatic pill reminder for easy supervision,” 2017 International Conference on Intelligent Sustainable Systems (ICISS), Palladam, 2017, pp. 630-637, doi: 10.1109/ISS1.2017.8389315.