Tech Toys

Here's the latest gadgets and tech tools—just the right prescription to the compliance problem
Nov 01, 2008

As patient compliance rates continue to decline, pharmaceutical companies must look beyond their internal adherence programs and consider some of the nifty new gadgets technology vendors are providing the healthcare industry. Sure, some of these contraptions aren't targeted primarily at pharma, but most of them can be adapted to suit various needs. Pharm Exec looks at some of the most interesting new tech toys now available or in the near future.

Vital Jacket

The Vital Jacket has been a five-year project to monitor patients' EKG rates, blood pressure, oxygen saturation of the blood and many other stats using hi-fi apparel that looks like something from the movie Tron. "Currently, we are monitoring heart statistics," says Luis Maireles of BioDevices. "We can perform an EKG online using only a simple t-shirt."

Simple might be an understatement. The Vital Jacket uses disposable cardiologic electrodes, like the ones used in a hospital to send signals to a small box that is hidden in the pocket. A memory card stores the information, and holds about 72 hours of data. The technology is also Bluetooth-compatible, so the data can be wirelessly updated to a computer for real-time monitoring.

Several versions will be released to market, but pharma should keep an eye out for the healthcare model, currently in clinical trials, which can be used in clinical situations to not only monitor EKG and blood pressure, but also to track movement, relaying to trial coordinators whether the patient has opened their medication bottle.

HealthPia America

The Glucophone isn't technically a phone. It's a meter that attaches to a standard Motorola RAZR cellular phone through a mini-USB jack. A software program on the phone automatically activates when a test strip is run through the meter. After the blood strip passes through the dongle, a chart shows the user their blood glucose result right on the screen of the cell phone and automatically sends that information to a central repository at database operator Infopia. The data is available to be shared with approved organizations. A text message can also be sent out to a family member in the case of juvenile diabetes or to a clinician monitoring clinical trials.

Doctors also receive a text if a certain amount of time has elapsed since they last received a result and the device can send a reminder to the patient to check their glucose.

"I always see our products as a dovetail for clinical trials," says Bryan Sowards, CEO of Infopia USA. "Doctors are trying to gather information and we are providing pharma companies with daily results of testing, which is the overall goal."

DRUG Compliance Monitor

Biotech drug firm Sequella was sick of watching trials fail because patients were not adhering to the six-to-12-month treatment period for trials. So it developed a drug detection device that can check the patient's skin to find out whether a drug has been taken.

According to Alan Klein, executive VP of corporate development, the watch touches the skin directly above the blood stream. Once the drug is ingested and processed through the GI track, it is picked up by the device.

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