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Development of a remote medication dispenser for narcotic rehabilitation patients


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Ho, Quy Vien 2010 , 'Development of a remote medication dispenser for narcotic rehabilitation patients', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Narcotic drug dependency rehabilitation programs aim to break with the routines
and habits relating to the acquisition and use of illicit drugs. Most narcotic
dependency rehabilitation patients have to visit a pharmacy daily to obtain
supervised doses of narcotic rehabilitation medication. The aim of rehabilitation
programs is often to progress patients to take away doses (TADs). However, there
are inherent risks associated with TADs due to lack of security of the medication and
monitoring of its use.
This thesis documents the design, development, and testing of a "Remote
Medication Dispenser" device which can provide a secure home-based method of
medication delivery for these patients, in particular, for those using TADs. Both
clinical and functional requirements for the dispenser were considered in the
consultation with an expert health professional in this field. To meet the
requirements, a secure and hands-free medication intake method was developed in
which the device dispenses medication directly to the patient's mouth - under the
The device has a microcontroller to internally control its operation, with external
control achieved through a computer-based user interface. The device has an
enclosed housing, thus if there is forced access to medication, evidence will be
prominent. Medication is loaded into the dispenser only by pharmacists. A "dosing
supervisor" controls the dispensing operation through an internet connection; the
medication is dispensed one by one and managed by the patient.
Two prototypes of the dispenser were proposed and implemented. The first prototype
is a multi-dose device which can contain and dispense up to four doses. It was
developed to study and investigate the proposed storing and dispensing approach.
The second prototype is a single-dose device that contains only one dose of
medication. The design was developed based on the first prototype with
simplification to make it more mobile and reliable. Moreover, the second prototype
has a remote control feature, which allows control via an internet connection. Both
devices dispense the same type of medication and apply the same storing and
dispensing method.
The operation of the dispensers was assessed with lab-based trials. They both
operated as expected and met the design's specifications except for unreliability of
the multi-dose dispenser, which was related to its complexity. A patient trial was proposed using the second (single-dose) prototype with the
remote control function. An Ethics Approval was granted in order to carry out the
experiment. A questionnaire, which concentrates on the design and its operation, was
developed to obtain feedback from patients when they use the device. The trials will
be conducted subsequent to the submission of this thesis.
In conclusion, the concept of a remote medication dispenser was successful in
terms of design and lab based assessment of the developed prototypes. The design
has potential to be applied in research and development, and in clinical settings,
particularly in narcotic rehabilitation programs.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Ho, Quy Vien
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2010 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
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Additional Information:

No access or viewing until 18 June 2012. After that date, available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (MEngSc)--University of Tasmania, 2010. Includes bibliographical references

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