Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I often talk about blessings we have received since Allen's injury. Trust me, we have received plenty. I am so thankful to be able to see the good in such a time of turmoil and tragedy. Some days it is difficult, but most of the time, the good shines brightly on our lives.

One of the blessings we have received came in the form of a machine called EMMA. EMMA is an electronic medication management assistant, lovingly referred to in our house as the pill ATM. EMMA helps Allen manage his medications independently and safely. We have 2 of these units which each hold 10 medications. They sit on our kitchen counter and do an incredible job!

EMMA is amazing. She does so many things and can really be individualized for each patient. Allen takes medications four times a day and she can be programmed for up to five times a day. When it is time for him to take his meds, a very obnoxious alarm sounds. He then enters a code on the machine's touchscreen. The machine then drops the medications that are due at that time. It gives him a little bit of time to take his meds, then alerts again for him to confirm that he has taken them. (This is very helpful in that he can't walk away and forget them.) If he forgets to take his meds or happens to be outside and misses them, I get a phone call on my cell phone. EMMA calls me to tell me that my spouse has not taken his medications!

Another great feature of EMMA is a vacation drop. If we are going to be out of town for a few days, or a single day, we can do a vacation drop. We enter the day we are leaving and the day we are returning. EMMA then drops each dose scheduled for those days individually and tells me to put each dose in a ziploc bag and label it. It then continues for each dose for the length of our vacation. Later, when we are away, EMMA calls my cell phone when it is time for Allen to take his medications, just like the alarm does when we are at home!

There are also capabilities for doing a single drop and those for PRN (as needed) medications. It will not let medications be dropped too close together. For example, Allen takes medications for migraines on an as needed basis. If he can take them every 6 hours, it will not let any drop before the 6 hour time frame has passed. It will tell you on the screen the next drop time available.

EMMA is set up with a monitoring system, much like that of a home security system. That is how this all works. EMMA communicates regularly, through wireless internet or cell phones. Because of this monitoring, medical professionals can see many things about their patient. The doctor can make medication changes remotely and also check on the patient's compliance with taking their medications. The possibilities are really endless with what can be done with this wonderful machine!

As a full time caregiver, EMMA definitely makes my life easier as well. Before receiving EMMA last February, medication management was my job. Allen takes 17 different meds and I was responsible for dispensing them all. It was quite a job and took a lot of time each day. If I was going to be gone, I had a huge job in making sure whoever was going to fill in for me, knew exactly what to do in regards to the meds. This usually was my mom or sister and it put a lot of added stress and responsibility on them. EMMA takes all of this away. She does this part of the caretaking for me!! It is a huge relief when I am away to know that Allen's meds are all safely administered.

On a personal note, EMMA actually saved my husband's life. A few months ago, Allen figured out a way to beat her. He has a code to enter that drops his medications and another to load/unload the machine. Because EMMA does not let him get his medications too close together, he decided to unload a card of pills and took most of them, and then put the card back in. (We have now set the machine so that he does not have the codes to load/unload the machine so this can't happen again.) I knew something was wrong but wasn't sure what. I called EMMA support to check everything out and they could tell me everything that had been done to the machine. They were able to tell me he had taken out a card, at what time, how many were in it when he took it out, and how many were in it when he put it back in. Without EMMA, I would have had no idea what was wrong for who knows how long. Instead, I was able to get him to the ER and to medical treatment. Everything worked out, but I am glad I did not have to see what would have happened without EMMA.

To learn more about EMMA go to www.inrangesystems.com or find her on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/EMMA/165561373469871 .

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