Modern technology has worked hand-in-hand with new discoveries in medicine to bring incredible breakthroughs to help people with medical conditions maintain a high quality of life. But roughly half of Americans don’t take their medications exactly as prescribed, and 10% of senior hospital visits are due to all-too-easy medication mistakes. For most people, it’s challenging to keep track of multiple medications. When they need to be taken at different times, with or without food, it’s easy to find yourself asking whether or not you’ve taken your medication over and over.
That’s where the Hero pill dispenser comes in. Hero aims to safeguard you and your loved ones against the possibility of missing medication, taking the wrong dose, or taking the wrong medicine altogether. These easy missteps can have grave – even life-threatening – consequences.
How well does the Hero pill dispenser work? Is it worth the investment for you and your family? Our experts thoroughly tested it to give you the pros, cons, and little details to help you decide if it’s right for you.
- Never run out – Hero can automatically order medicine when running low.
- Dispenser holds up to 90 days of medicine.
- Manages scheduling for up to 10 different medications and daily doses.
- Can pay with FSA or HSA instead of cash.
- Notifications keep everyone in the loop with the “caregiver” role.
- Take advantage of Hero’s 90-Day Trial
- Requires a monthly subscription to keep the product running.
- Not intended for people with dementia.
- No battery power or backups.
- Cannot handle gummies, liquids, or cut pills (though it can still remind you about those).
The Hero pill dispenser is a smart device that makes it much easier to manage medications, improving your safety and wellbeing.
The pill dispenser can handle numerous medications and schedules. And membership in this program gets you the very cool, complementary service of automatically filling your prescription, so you never run out.
Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers like you make more informed decisions to live healthier lives. We extensively test each health service we review.
Our team has spent over 57 hours testing and researching Hero and its close competitors to give you an unbiased exploration of your options, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. Through a thorough and deliberate approach to every product we encounter, we evaluate services based on adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we buy 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.
In order to best break down what separates Hero from other pill dispensers, we considered several aspects important to you as a customer, including the cost of the product, how reliably it works, how intuitive the design is to use, the integration of technology with the dispenser, and the level of privacy you get.
Hero has both a one-time initiation fee and a monthly subscription that you’ll need to keep up on. Luckily, both of these are lower than the starting cost of competitors, but this can add up over time. While it’s a little pricey considering you’ll have to pay it monthly for as long as you plan on using the device, the subscription covers everything you could need related to medication management. Hero also offers a generous return window and takes HSA/FSA payments, with hopes of adding insurance coverage soon. Some Medicaid, community, and veteran networks will offer waivers or assistance paying for Hero as well, and Hero links to all of these in a thorough reference page.
8.4 / 10
Hero is great at pulling exactly the medications you need at exactly the right times. The only downside is that Hero uses wall outlet power and has no power backup, so if you lose electricity, your Hero will stop working. There is a pill access key so that you can get your medications out in those situations, but it’s less than ideal, and many of their competitors have implemented battery backups.
8.4 / 10
Hero is built for long-term use. The appliance itself has a small footprint and several methods of notification, as well as additional tools to help it travel better and to let you get your medications out in an emergency. However, it relies completely on wall outlet power with no backup power supplies, and it cannot supply gummy, liquid, or pre-cut medications.
8.8 / 10
Hero’s strength lies in its notifications. You’ll hear and see when it’s time to take pills with five different notification options, and you and your listed caregivers will be able to see when you’ve missed any important doses. The app and appliance interact seamlessly, but you’ll need to work in both of them while you’re setting up your Hero pill dispenser.
8.5 / 10
Hero’s pill dispenser is as private as the rest of your medical information. Hero follows HIPAA guidelines, preventing unauthorized parties from seeing any private health information about you or your medication. There are passcodes to lock potential outsiders out of the machine.
Hero began when Kal Vepuri, its founder, was caring for his seriously ill mother. In spite of her background as a physician, she faced serious challenges managing more than a dozen prescriptions she needed to take. Kal realized just how daunting the challenge of medication management is when people are sick. He wanted to make the process easier and safer for everyone in similar situations while giving independence back to those who need it most. After his mother missed a dose of critical medication, he knew he had to step up to the plate, so he founded Hero in 2018.
Hero has several aims:
- To help you take pills at the right times in the right dosage
- To log data about doses taken and missed
- To keep caretakers and loved ones in the loop
- To organize communication between caretakers, doctors, pharmacists, and the person taking the medication
- To enable refills
In order to use your Hero, you’ll need to sign up for a monthly subscription. This subscription gives you access to an app with services that can take the stress out of prescription refills by ordering them for you with the Hero Fill program. The app also provides communication with your caregivers about missed and late doses.
Anyone who struggles to take medications could benefit from the prompt efficiency of a Hero pill dispenser. Whether you forget because of brain fog, multiple medications, juggling a complex medication schedule, or anything else that causes difficulty adhering to your medication regimen, Hero has your back.
This product is not a replacement for care. It also is not ideal for patients with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other cognitive or physical impairments who might not be able to verify Hero’s medication identification accuracy. While Hero is a reliable dispensing system, it’s best to be sure that you’re actually taking the correct medications.
Since the Hero pill dispenser is a medical device regulated by the FDA, it is only sold in the United States. That said, it can ship for free to any of the 50 United States.
To get started with Hero, you’ll be purchasing more than the machine. There is a one-time initiation fee of $99.99, which includes the cost of the dispenser, and then a monthly subscription plan to use it. The subscription costs $29.99 per month if paid month-to-month, or $24.99 per month if paid annually (for a lump sum payment of $299.88, saving you $60 per year). Shipping is always free.
Insider Tip: If the fees are beyond your budget, start the checkout process but don’t complete it. Within a few hours, you’ll begin receiving offers from Hero such as a text for $100 off or an email for 30% off your first year.
While these costs may not be the cheapest, it is significantly less expensive than similar services from competitors like Philips and MedMinder. Plus, it offers more features and room for as many dispensable pills.
Hero offers a generous 90-day return and exchange window. This is a money-back guarantee, so it’s easy to pack it back up and return it if you don’t like it. You can still return your Hero dispenser after 90 days, but you won’t be reimbursed for your unused subscription through the end of the year.
Hero is not yet covered by private insurance, though they are working with insurance companies to change that. It is HSA and FSA eligible, so you can use your HSA or FSA card at checkout.
Medicaid is generally open to covering products that help to improve patient medication adherence, since not adhering to medications can cost a lot more in the long run. And if Medicaid won’t cover Hero in your state, there are many other non-Medicaid aid services (for the elderly, veterans, caregivers, and more) that are willing to help. Hero links to all of these on their website.
Hero’s website makes it exceptionally easy to order their pill dispenser. In fact, it’s the only product they sell. The appliance always ships within 48 hours, and your subscription fee will not be charged until the box arrives on your doorstep.
In each Hero package, you’ll find:
- Hero pill dispenser
- Travel bar
- Travel bar holder
- 10 medication cartridges
- Pill access key
- AC adapter
- Getting Started guide
The setup process is very straightforward, as Hero provides clear and practical instructions. However, those who are not used to apps or online interfaces may want help from a loved one – or the useful 24/7 support provided by Hero.
In order to set up the pill dispenser, you’ll need to plug it in where you’d like to keep it and connect it to your WiFi using the arrow controls on the dispenser itself. Once connected, you can then use the Hero app (using either a smartphone or computer) to program the dispenser. You’ll need to use the app and dispenser together to input your medication schedule and load the pills. After the initial setup, you can manage your information remotely through the app.
The Hero dispenser is password-protected, and you can set the password in the app. This is available for both you and any caregivers, so it’s easy to prevent any accidental schedule shifts or others accidentally taking your medication. 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.
Hero’s pill dispenser is similar in size and shape to a coffee maker, fitting easily on your kitchen counter. It can handle up to 10 different medications and up to 90 days’ worth of medication, dispensing up to 10 times a day. This way, Hero can accommodate even the most complicated medication regimen with dozens of potential scheduling scenarios. Of course, storage capacity does depend on the size of the pills (and it can’t take gummies, liquids, or tablets that have been halved or quartered), but the overall scheduling flexibility is impressive.
The Hero pill dispenser is listed with the FDA as a medical device, so it goes through the same rigorous testing as defibrillators and CPAP machines.
After you set up your Hero with your medication schedule and fill it with your pills, the Hero pill dispenser will automatically begin dispensing at the schedule you’ve specified. The pills come out of the dispenser into a dispenser cup, which comes in the package and is vital for the device to work. It will not dispense into anything other than a Hero dispenser cup. If you lose or damage your cup, you’ll need to contact Hero to get a replacement. You can also order extra cups at checkout if you want a spare.
Hero requires WiFi and a standard wall-outlet power supply (specifically 100-240V AC power) in order to work. It doesn’t have any battery backup power sources, which is a feature we wish Hero would incorporate in future iterations, as many of their competitors have this kind of backup. While you do receive a notification through the app if Hero’s power source is unavailable, in some cases, that may be too late.
Many protect against power outages with an uninterruptible power supply (or UPS), which kicks in with battery power when electricity fails. Hero currently recommends having a UPS, and while it’s an added cost, their overall low cost compared to competitors might justify it.
Two other core accessories that come with the Hero pill dispenser are the pill access key and travel bar. The pill access key is a small device that can open the top of the appliance in case of emergency or long-term power failure, as you cannot otherwise open Hero if it’s not connected to a power source.
If you are traveling, Hero recommends you take the appliance with you, and the travel bar is there to help. The bar fits neatly inside of the machine to keep pills from falling out or moving around while you take it with you in the car, on a plane, or simply from one room to another.
The Hero pill dispenser has a special role that accounts for others caring for sick or elderly loved ones: the caregiver. Caregivers have access to all of the information in the app and can control the appliance from afar. Loved ones and in-home support who help the person taking medication can provide remote medication management with the same powers and privileges. You can add or remove caregivers at any time through the app.
Notifications and alarms
Based on the schedule that you’ve programmed, there are several times where Hero will send notifications and alarms for you and any caregivers you have listed. You can get notifications when:
- It’s time to take your medication
- You’ve missed a dose
- You’re low on pills and in need of a refill
The dispenser provides audio and visual alarms when it’s time for you to take your medication, as well as text, app, or phone call notifications. The wide range of notification options is fantastic, accommodating people with visual and hearing impairments as well as letting you pick your favorite way to be reminded.
These notifications also extend beyond the positive. If you miss a dose, or even just take it later than ideal, the Hero app notifies both the person in need of the medicine and their listed caregivers. Our testers found it impressive and reliable and are impressed by the strength of interconnectivity that Hero’s app provides for loved ones.
Since you can pour up to a 90 days’ supply of medication into the Hero pill dispenser, it can be easy to forget when you need to refill. There’s also no easy way to see the number of pills, even for those not visually impaired. However, the pill dispenser keeps track of that for you. It notices when the supply is running low, and you’ll receive a notification. From there, you can either use the optional Hero Fill pharmacy refill feature for automatic medication delivery or place an order with your local pharmacy. Either way, you’ll still know when it’s time to order more.
Hero Fill is an optional service included in your subscription. When the Hero pill dispenser detects you’re running low on medication, Hero Fill allows your device to handle the order for more medication. In order to use Hero Fill, you’ll need to sign up through the app. You can do this while you’re setting up the device or at any point after, as long as you enter:
- Member details, including allergy information
- Member’s insurance information
- Current pharmacy information
- Medications you need transferred
- A valid credit card
This information will then go to AdhereRX, Hero’s partner pharmacy, who will send your prescriptions in the mail at no additional cost. Shipping is always free, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing you won’t have to make any more frantic rushes to the pharmacy once you discover you’ve completely run out of it.
Hero’s customer service is available in three forms: in-browser chat, email, and phone. They typically reply within an hour, but we found that in-browser chat was still overwhelmingly the fastest way to connect with a customer service representative. No forms are necessary to speak with someone: even in chat and email, opening the page directs you immediately into an inbox. All lines are open 24/7 for help.
If your pill dispenser ever stops working, you can send it in, and Hero will repair the product for free. The dispenser’s warranty is directly tied to your subscription: as long as you have your subscription, you’ll be covered.
Hero complies fully with HIPAA. This means that none of your personal health information – such as your prescription names, insurance information, and medical history – will be shared with anyone without your explicit consent. They save all of the information you manually enter for use in their subscription in secure databases and have ongoing access to the device itself for performance checks.
With easy-to-use refill trays that clearly display medication and a personalizable screen, MedMinder is created with the elderly in mind. They aspire to people gain independence with their prescriptions, as “loved ones should never need to transform into full-time caretakers.” However, they only hold up to four weeks (28 days) of medications compared to Hero’s 90. MedMinder also costs twice as much for their monthly subscription at $49.99/month.
At first glance, Livi looks almost identical to a one-cup coffee machine. It functions similarly: a green light will come on when it’s time to take medication, and all you’ll have to do is press a button to dispense exactly what you need. Livi can dispense up to 15 pills of different shapes and sizes multiple times a day as needed, five more than Hero, with a 90-day supply. No sorting necessary – just pour them in, and Livi will take care of the rest. For ease of use and no complicated organization, Livi has your back.
Philips’ Spencer Automated Dispensing Service
Well-known appliance brand Philips offers an in-home medication dispenser that helps to manage your medication in combination with your primary healthcare provider. It was designed for easy use, with cloud-based connection and the ability for you, your doctor, and your pharmacist all to stay in sync with what you are taking. It offers a professional portal for facilitating care and an app like Hero to communicate with caregivers and family members who help monitor medication. Philips’ healthcare integration may work best if you don’t have caregivers but need help with your medication.
MedaCube looks like a printer but is easier to use than one. It can take up to 90-day supplies of 16 different medications, each in its own drawer in the machine. Notably, MedaCube was tested in an FDA-approved clinical trial and found that it improved proper medication adherence from 49% to 97% of the time. However, this performance comes at a cost: a brand-new MedaCube costs almost $2,000.
Worried about others accidentally taking your medication? Pria has you covered. They require a PIN code or facial recognition verification before medication is dispensed so that only you have access to sensitive medications. It allows for two-way calling so that you can connect with your caregivers, doctors, and other healthcare providers or loved ones, and they can check in with you as well. Pria costs $9.99/month for its subscription but charges more up-front than Hero at $299.99 for the machine.