Medication management for patients through IoT-enabled smart pillboxes

Wisepill Technologies and Aeris recently announced that they are collaborating to help pharmaceutical businesses and healthcare organizations around the world to improve medication management for their patients through IoT-enabled smart pillboxes. Unlike many reminder systems on the market that nag users to take their medicine, the Wisepill system was created to remind users only when they forget.

To find out more about how Wisepill system works, we have interviewed Lloyd Marshall, co-founder of Wisepill Technologies.

Carol Rudinschi: Can you give more examples of Wisepill system's benefits?

Lloyd Marshall: Wisepill has worked closely with caregivers and researchers over the years to provide a solution that is portable and user friendly. Its simplicity allows it to be used by anyone without fuss or training. Wisepill's real time technology allows researchers to access data on a daily basis. This means they do not have to wait weeks to receive feedback. This also ensures that data is not lost if a device goes missing or is damaged. Wisepill provides tools that allow researchers and caregivers to easily manage a large number of patients. A web management application allows the management of patients and devices via robust data reports and notifications.

The product has been designed to work in diverse environments with little need to service the equipment. The long life rechargeable battery means the device can be used for long periods of time without the need of a power outlet. The device is designed to work in places where cellphone network coverage is poor, storing and forwarding messages automatically to the Wisepill Servers.

Wisepill is Considered by researchers as an objective measure of adherence behaviour and the best means for differentiated interventions. It provides data on patterns of adherence. The dispensers are generally well acceptable and easy-to-use for patients. The system can be implemented in low and high resource settings.

Carol Rudinschi: What's the sweet spot target for this system?

Lloyd Marshall: Organizations that aim to manage chronic illness where a regular daily medicine intake is essential.

Carol Rudinschi: How does the Wisepill system transmits the patient data? How does it work?

Lloyd Marshall: The Wisepill dispensers make use of mobile technology to send data over the internet to the Wisepill cloud Server every time the dispensers are opened. The patient's prescription is stored on the Wisepill Server. With this information, the server knows when the patient has missed a scheduled medication dose and can send a notification directly to the patient’s own mobile phone.

Carol Rudinschi: Where is the data stored?

Lloyd Marshall: The Wisepill dispensers are able to store months of data in their electronic memory. An intake record is transferred to the Wisepill Server each time the dispenser is opened. The Server associates a dispenser with a patient and stores all related device and patient adherence or intake data. Wisepill technologies uses Hetzner's secure servers to store client data.

Additional background information

From early in 2008 Wisepill partnered with David Bangsberg (director of International Programs at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard School of Medicine, and the director of the International Program for the Harvard University Center for AIDS Research) and Jessica Haberer (Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Initiative for Global Health).

By working closely with Dr Bangsberg and Dr Habera, Wisepill has been able to adapt the technology to work well in a rural environment where cell phone networks are not always reliable. Wisepill Technologies makes use of mobile phone and Internet technologies to provide real-time medication management.

In Uganda, the information is fed back to Dr. Haberer and her colleagues who can then see in real-time and tracked in archived charts when the patient has likely taken his or her medication. If a patient misses more than two days of medicine in a row, a member of Dr. Haberer’s team contacts the patient to see why. The goal is to integrate this technology into clinical practice, where adherence reminders could be sent via cell phones, or community health workers could be alerted to go to the patient's home to provide more in depth assistance. This is extremely innovative and important technology, particularly for HIV/AIDS patients because if a patient misses just a few doses in a row, the patient may begin to develop drug resistance and within a few weeks could lose treatment efficacy, says Dr. Haberer. Second line therapy is much more expensive to treat and the resistant virus can then begin circulating in the population. In addition, for poor patients in rural areas who can’t easily travel to far-away health clinics and given the paucity of physicians in many African countries the technology could be a major boon, she says. The device also may allow for targeted use of viral load in HIV/AIDS patients, which is a resource-intensive measure of the severity of the infection. This test could potentially be reserved for those patients with adherence problems. Drs. Bangsberg and Haberer are planning additional research in this area.

By continuing to apply new cost saving technologies and with economies of scale Wisepill believes that they can eventually provide the solution at an affordable level to make the solution viable to track and assist millions of people on the African content and in the developing world.

 

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