Medication saves lives, it’s as simple as that. In fact, the advent of modern medicine ushered in some pretty remarkable breakthroughs.
Diseases once considered a death sentence are now managed with medications. Painful conditions can be kept under control. Simply put, medicine’s helped improve the quality of life for millions of people.
But, there’s one problem. As amazing as these breakthroughs in medicine are, you have to actually take the medications to enjoy their benefits — leaving them on the shelf to collect dust won’t have the same effect.
That task is easier said than done for many people. Americans forgo taking their medications for many reasons. Yes, forgetfulness is a common one. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep track due to the sheer number of pills:
When do I take this pill? With or without food? How many do I take again?
The point is clear: Medication management can be an overwhelming task.
That’s where Hero comes in. The Hero Pill Dispenser was designed to help people improve their adherence to medication regimens prescribed by their doctors.
Hero’s goal is to bring simplicity to people’s medication regimen through the integration of their pill dispenser, app, and fulfillment services — making medication management easier.
It sounds great. But is this medication dispenser really worth it? Stick around as we give you an honest review of what Hero has to offer.
Hero was founded by Kal Vepuri after he experienced the difficulties of medication management firsthand when his mother got sick. It was stressful.
Sorting pills, dispensing them, refilling and scheduling them, missing doses — all overwhelming. After witnessing how daunting the task of managing multiple medications could be, he saw that there was a real need for help.
He wanted to create a way to make the process easier, safer, and more manageable. So, Hero was born. Hero seeks to provide extra support for people in their medication management journey with an end-to-end solution for families and individuals.
Hero wants to:
- Help people take medications at the proper times and in the proper dosages.
- Log and track when medications are taken or missed.
- Help enable medication refills.
- Keep caregivers and loved ones aware, notifying them when needed.
- Help organize communication between individuals, their loved ones or caregivers, their doctors and pharmacists.
In short, Hero offers more than a pill dispenser, and that’s only one part of their membership. Through their dispenser, app, and 24/7 support, Hero wants to help medication adherence, offering peace of mind to everyone involved.
What We Like
- Flexible system that schedules and manages up to 10 different medications and doses
- Large capacity with a dispenser can hold up to 90 days worth of medication
- Provides a safeguard against missing doses with its alarm system
- Provides notifications for everyone involved in care
- Automatically orders refills of medication when low
- Seamless integration between device and mobile app
- Offers free shipping
What We Don’t Like
- Device has no backup battery in case the power goes out (though it does have an emergency key so you can open the storage and retrieve pills manually)
- Pill dispenser only handles pills; no liquids, gummies, or halved pills
- Setup can be technical and difficult for technology-newbies
Taking a few pills doesn’t seem like it should be a complicated task. Directions are written on all pill bottles, after all. Taking pills should be easy, right? Why shell out extra money for a Hero pill dispenser?
Well, medication nonadherence (not taking medications as prescribed) is much more common than people would think. It’s estimated that around 30 – 50% of US adults don’t properly adhere to their long-term medication regimens.
Medication nonadherence presents an unmet challenge in more ways than one. Not only does this lead to disastrous consequences medically — causing an estimated 125,000 preventable deaths each year — but it’s costly as well. Each year, it contributes to around $100 billion in preventable health care costs.
But why the challenge? Well, sometimes medication nonadherence isn’t intentional. People who suffer from cognitive disorders can simply forget, and that’s why extra care and support is needed. But, sometimes it’s also intentional, and people choose not to take them.
Here are some of the common reasons for medication nonadherence:
- Fear – Sometimes people are afraid to take medications, usually due to possible side effects.
- Misunderstanding – Some people don’t understand the importance of sticking to their medication regimen.
- Mistrust – Sadly, many people don’t trust their doctors or pharmaceutical companies.
- “I feel fine” – When people lack symptoms, they discontinue their medications since they “feel fine” without them.
- Overwhelmed – Many people take so many medications that managing them can be too overwhelming, so they stop taking them.
- Expense – Cost’s another factor. Filling prescriptions (whether with insurance or not) is simply too expensive for many people.
So, it’s clear that there are reasons people stop taking their medications as prescribed. But, as the statistics above point out, not doing so can be dangerous and costly.
We tried Hero’s membership to take full advantage of their product. Hero’s three elements are the Hero Pill Dispenser, the Hero mobile app, and 24/7 support. First, let’s take a look at the device.
The device is roughly the size of a coffee maker, so it doesn’t require a ton of space, and it’ll fit nicely on most kitchen counters. It weighs about 10 pounds.
The device has the ability to store, sort, and dispense up to a 90-day supply of 10 different medications, which is pretty remarkable.
Since the Hero Medication dispenser can accommodate a variety of scheduling scenarios, it can also dispense medications multiple times a day. Plus, according to Hero, the Hero pill dispenser can dispense pills of any size, shape, or texture.
However, this doesn’t include liquids, gummies, chewy vitamins, dissolvable pills, or half or quartered pills. But, the device could be set to remind us to take them.
We found the user interface for this device was user-friendly, once we got the hang of it. It’s controlled by a set of buttons that control the options screen, located on the front of the product. There’s a primary button and four smaller, directional buttons.
It’s not a touchscreen. The primary button selects choices on the small screen and the smaller buttons serve as the directional arrows. When the device alerts us that it’s pill time, the push button’s the dispenser. The setup’s pretty standard fare, nothing too complicated. We thought it was responsive and easy to control.
The user interface on this device also walked us through the filling process.
First, we picked a medication. Next, we opened the front hatch of the device where the pill housing containers are kept.
You can fill it with as many pills as you wish (prescription dosage most likely). From here, the user interface guides you through the proper setup for dispensing (e.g. times, amounts, etc.). Simply repeat the process for all medications.
We thought the process was quite simple. Often, caregivers will be handling this process for the individual taking the medications.
But, there are obviously situations where the individual will be in charge of the entire process. This may pose some difficulty for those who aren’t “tech-savvy,” but Hero provides 24/7 support for those situations.
Setting up this device — medications and scheduling — does require some technical aptitude. This is where the Hero Mobile App comes into play.
But, data entry is quite simple as the app features a huge medication database. From there, we could enter our whole medication regimen, including medication doses, dose timing, and all changes in medication regimens.
We found that the app communicates pretty seamlessly with the device. Set up requires a power source, internet access, Wi-Fi, and the mobile app.
Once programmed, this device:
- Dispenses the right pills at the right time and amount
- Alerts users when it’s time to take the pills
- Notifies users and caregivers if something goes wrong (low amount, skipped dose, etc.)
The device is set up to alert users through notifications and alarms, all based on the schedule that was programmed through the app.
The device itself features both visual (flashing lights) and audible alarms (beeps), which is nice. To take it a step further, users can also receive text or app notifications on their phones.
Skipped or missed doses
These notifications include when it’s time to take medication as well as when a dose has been neglected or skipped.
A nice feature is that Hero can alert all parties involved when medication is missed — this includes alerting both the individual and the caregiver. Communication is key, and this device delivers.
Low pill alerts and Hero Fill
When the dispenser notices that the pill supply is running low, it’ll send out a notification to all involved parties.
Hero offers a service called Hero Fill, an optional feature for automated medication refills. It’s a complimentary service that comes with free medication shipping for members. All we were responsible for was the medication co-pay.
These customers certainly seem pleased with Hero:
I love my hero dispenser. I take a lot of medication and I get confused sometimes on if I’ve taken it or not and with the hero I don’t have to worry anymore. It’s so easy to set up and easy to use. I highly recommended!
— Rhonda, 5/5 stars on Trustpilot
I take 10 meds different at different times so this is much easier. Love it.
— Ricardo, 5/5 stars on Trustpilot
It has been amazing!! Mom has been able to take her medicine independently. I get a text if she hasn’t taken them or if she is running low.
— Stripe, 5/5 stars on Trustpilot
Hero’s set up as a subscription-based membership. So, it isn’t just about buying the device. It requires a one-time initiation fee of $99 and $29.99 per month with a 12-month commitment.
The purchase is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee and a limited warranty of the device, covering any defect in material or workmanship.
Can I use my HSA or FSA card to purchase?
Yes. Hero has options, such as HSA and FSA payments and other insurance reimbursement options.
Is Hero regulated by the FDA?
Yes. Hero’s pill dispenser is an FDA-approved medical device.
Is Hero private and secure?
Yes. Hero complies with HIPAA privacy laws, keeping all your information safe and secure. Plus, the device features a passcode to protect it from tampering.
What if I lose power? Can I get my pills out?
Each Hero device comes with a safety key to ensure users are able to manually open the device in the event power is lost.
What about tech support?
Hero has a team of agents that are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, to assist customers with technical issues. They are available by phone, email, and chat.
So, is the Hero pill dispenser worth it? We definitely think so.
Hero offers a convenient, cost-effective way to help with medication management.
Their membership allows users to store and dispense needed medication in proper dosages and at the proper times.
The device is able to issue important medication reminders and it also alerts users when doses are skipped and when medication is running low. Plus, it keeps caregivers in the loop.
At the end of the day, Hero’s system gives both individuals and caregivers peace of mind when it comes to medication management.
References, Studies and Sources:
Giselle is a practicing pharmacist with over 9 years of experience in the community and long-term care pharmacy settings; and a freelance medical writer. She earned her PharmD from the University of the Pacific Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy in 2014. She is a Board-Certified Geriatric Pharmacist (BCGP), who focuses on the complex medication needs of older adults.
She has worked with the Peninsula Pharmacists Association in California to create educational handouts and present on various topics to older adults in the community.
Her professional interests include volunteering at health fairs, learning about alternative therapy and traditional Chinese medicine; and learning languages.