Modern medicine has delivered amazing breakthroughs that help people with serious medical conditions maintain a high quality of life. But roughly half of Americans don’t take their medications as prescribed, and 10% of senior hospital visits are due to all-too-easy mistakes in medication. For most people – and for numerous reasons – it’s very challenging to keep track of when to take multiple prescribed medications, and at what dosage.
That’s where the Hero pill dispenser comes in. Hero aims to safeguard us and our loved ones against the possibility of missing doses, taking improper dosage, or taking the wrong medicine by mistake. These easy missteps can have very grave – even life-threatening – consequences. So avoiding them is a majorly important goal.
How well does this Hero pill dispenser system work? Is it worth the investment for you and your family? Our experts thoroughly tested it and here in this review we’ll give you all the pros, cons and details to help you decide if it’s right for you.
- Flexibility – Dispenser manages scheduling for up to 10 different medications and daily doses.
- Dispenser holds up to 90 days of medicine.
- Pill size/shape doesn’t matter.
- Hero safeguards against missed doses with both audible and visible alarm.
- Notifications keep everyone in the loop, for added security.
- More affordable than alternative systems.
- Never run out – Hero can automatically order medicine when running low.
- Free shipping.
- Pay with FSA or HSA money (and possibly insurance, depending on your plan).
- Can’t handle liquids, gummies, or halved/quartered pills (but it can remind you about these)
- No back-up battery power.
- Setup may require help, depending on tech-savviness of the user.
The Hero pill dispenser and supportive app are – pardon the choice of words – indispensable for those who could use help managing prescriptions. If you have multiple prescriptions and find it difficult to keep track of everything, this device will help you. We can highly recommend it for its high value, good quality and the combination of potentially life-saving services that Hero offers. The pill dispenser might not save your life, but it will definitely save you from stress and anxiety over missed doses and low supplies of medications. We don’t recommend Hero or other pill dispensers to serve people with dementia; Hero itself admits that its pill dispenser isn’t intended for that context.
We extensively test, experience and order from each health service we review. Our review of the Hero pill dispenser is no different. We try our best to give you, our readers, an unbiased exploration of at-home health services, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. We evaluate the service based on our adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we use the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?
Additionally this review of Hero, like all health-related content on this website, was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.
Hero began when its founder, Kal Vepuri, perceived a real need. His mom had fallen seriously ill, and in spite of her background as a physician, faced serious challenges managing the more than a dozen prescriptions she needed to maintain and take properly. This made Kal realize just how daunting a challenge people face when they get sick. It’s called medication management, and it’s not something anybody necessarily considers until they’re facing it themselves.
Kal wanted to make the process easier and safer for everyone in similar situations as his mom and the entire family. And so the company Hero was born.
Hero has several aims:
- To help you take pills at the proper times and in the proper dosage.
- To log data about doses taken and doses missed.
- To notify caretakers and loved ones.
- To organize communication between caretakers, doctors, pharmacists and the person taking the meds.
- To enable refills.
What we’re talking about here is much more than a pill dispenser, though that is the appliance that delivers the medicine. This is membership for a system in which the dispenser is just one part. There’s also the Hero app and services that can take the stress out of prescription refills and communication about whether doses were missed or taken.
Hero’s pill dispenser is similar in size and shape to a coffee maker, fitting easily on anybody’s kitchen counter.
The Hero pill dispenser can handle 10 different medications and can hold up to 90 days worth of medicine. It can dispense them multiple times each day (up to 10). This allows the dispenser to accommodate many different scheduling scenarios. The storage capacity does depend on size of the pills, but scheduling flexibility is very impressive.
Notifications and alarms are central to the service provided by Hero. Your Hero pill dispenser is a very smart machine. It notifies you about several things that are vital to your health or that of your loved one.
Alarms when it's time to take a medication or medications
Based on the schedule you’ve programmed, the pill dispenser will issue visual and audio alarms – as well as text, app or phone call notifications – when it’s time to take medicine. The redundancy is wonderful, accommodating people with visual or hearing impairments as well as those who prefer to receive a phone call reminder instead of a text message.
Notifications when someone takes a dose late, or misses one entirely
If you or your loved one skip or miss a dose, or even take the medicine later than what is ideal, then the Hero app will notify all interested parties – the person in need of the medicine, and his or her loved ones and caretaker(s). This is a vitally important feature that undoubtedly saves lives, and our testers found it impressive and reliable. Our testers are impressed by the strength of interconnectivity that Hero’s app provides loved ones and caretakers.
Low on pills?
There’s a notification for that. The pill dispenser notices when supply is running low and you’ll receive a notification of it. So even if you don’t use the Hero Fill optional feature for automated medication delivery, you’ll still know when it’s time to order more.
Hero Fill is an optional service in your membership. We just described how the Hero pill dispenser is sophisticated enough to detect when you’re running low on a medication. At no additional cost to you – no change to your co-pay or membership fee – your Hero pill dispenser will handle the order for more medication; you’ll receive the prescription in the mail to your home. Shipping is free. No trips required, and no frantic rushes to secure more medication once you discover you’ve completely run out of it.
Power supply and connection
Hero requires WiFi and a 100-240V AC power (a standard wall outlet will do) in order to serve you. It doesn’t have a battery back-up power source, which is a feature we wish Hero would incorporate in future iterations… Hero’s competitors often have this kind of back-up power source, and while it’s good that you can receive a notification when Hero’s power source is unavailable, nonetheless it would clearly be better if a battery could kick in at that point.
A lot of people protect against this kind of power outage situation by buying an uninterruptible power supply (or UPS), which is what Hero recommends at this time. UPS devices kick in with battery power when electricity fails. You can find those devices on Amazon and elsewhere; though it’s an added cost, the lower price of the Hero pill dispenser compared to competitors could justify it.
The dispenser cup
At this point, we also want to note: the pill dispenser comes with its own dispenser cup, which is a vital component for the device to work. If you lose or damage your cup, you’ll need to contact Hero in order to get a replacement. The Hero pill dispenser will not work without its own cup. (Hero also offers extra cups for purchase at checkout, in case you want a spare.)
Tamper-proofing password feature
The Hero pill dispenser is protected by passcode, so that if necessary, you or a caretaker can prevent others from accessing your medicine or disrupting or in any way altering the dosage schedule.
What if the pill dispenser gets disconnected?
If the Hero pill dispenser gets unplugged or loses power for some reason, you’ll receive notification of that also. But, as described above, it would be better if a back-up battery source came standard with the device.
Buying Hero’s pill dispenser is not just buying the device, but instead subscribing for a membership. This membership commitment is a year long and costs $29.99 per month, with a one-time starting fee of $99. While it’s not the cheapest service in the world, it compares very favorably with other similar services from competitors like Philips and MedMinder. In fact, it’s a serious bargain compared to those competitors, even while offering more features.
Hero supplies you with very clear and useful instructions on setup. We found the process to be very straightforward, but those who are not used to apps or using online interfaces may want some help either from a loved one, caretaker or the useful 24/7 support provided by Hero itself.
In order to set up the pill dispenser, you’ll need:
- WiFi connection.
- Electricity source.
- A desktop, laptop or smartphone (either iOS or Android).
Once you plug in your pill dispenser, you’ll need to connect it to your WiFi. You’ll use the simple arrow controls on the dispenser itself in order to connect to WiFi.
Once connected, you’ll then use the Hero app either via smartphone or computer in order to program the dispenser. NOTE: for initial setup – including scheduling and loading of pills – you will need to use both your personal device (phone or computer) and the dispenser itself. You can’t set up scheduling remotely at first. (You can use the app interface to change scheduling details at a later time, though these will also need to be confirmed at the dispenser itself.)
Our testers found the app interface to be modern and intuitive, and setting up the scheduling for each medication – while a little tedious – was a straightforward process with clear prompts to follow on screen. By following those steps, you’ll be able to load each medication into a cartridge in the dispenser.
Hero offers a free 30-day money-back return policy. If you decide it’s not right for you or your loved ones within 30 days of receiving the Hero pill dispenser, you can end your membership, return the equipment and get your money back.
After 30 days, you can still return your Hero, but you’ll have to pay the remainder of your 1-year membership fee.
Hero complies fully with HIPAA privacy laws. They keep your information totally secure.
At Innerbody, we customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the health-related service. For Hero and other health services and products, we have five areas that we use for our evaluations:
Quality: How well does the company deliver its core service(s) to the customer? Is the quality of the service high enough that we would recommend it to loved ones without hesitation? If not, why not?
User-friendly: How intuitive and user-friendly is the service? Does the device/program/app/website achieve a good degree of user-friendliness for its customers?
Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the company offer discounts?
Privacy: If health data is stored, will your data be stored securely? Are payments secure?
Customer Support: Particularly in situations where ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t make sense, how well does the company help to make the service ideal for you?