EpiPen Upgraded with New Alert Technology

JANUARY 07, 2015

The concept of the "Internet of Things" in health care has become a hot topic. For those unfamiliar with the concept, it can be summarized as the idea of interconnecting devices and associated objects under the broad scope of the Internet.

One large area of concentration has been the use of wearable technology for data tracking of health-related activities that can be input into the workflow of patient assessment and personalized care. While it is a topic of interest, pharmacy is one area where the concept of the Internet of Things is still in its infancy. Questions concerning whether this concept has any role in the practice of pharmacy are burgeoning, but some developers are finding their way.
 
One example is Veta, a product that can help alert caregivers on the use of an EpiPen. Veta is a GPS-enabled smart case that fits over current EpiPen models. Upon opening the cap, an alert is broadcasted to caregivers that the EpiPen is most likely in use.
 
This is all accomplished via sensors built into the smart case. Using WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, the case will notify patients of the case's location if it is lost, and it will alert patients when they are not within distance of it. This feature can help alert patients who are leaving home that they forgot to bring their EpiPen with them.

Information on the device's website indicates that this distance can be modified, so a distance parameter can be set. Additional sensors include a temperature meter that warns whether the EpiPen is too hot or cold. All of the data are based around integration with a smartphone and Veta companion app, where they are displayed and shared with others.
 
Veta offers the opportunity to help patients at severe risk of developing allergic reactions necessitating the use of epinephrine to remember to keep their EpiPen with them. In addition, this could be a good alert system for caregivers who are concerned and want to stay updated on their ward. The only shortcoming of Veta is that its design is not adopted for all epinephrine delivery devices on the market, such as Auvi-Q.

But Veta is just one example. The curious component concerns whether this technology could be further expanded to other medication products, such as rescue inhalers that could alert a provider about abrupt use, or insulin pens that could track adherence. 

At the current time, it is questionable whether the pharmaceutical industry will begin adapting their current products to incorporate the concept of the Internet of Things. More likely than not, other startups will create a business model based on such purposes. However, with the steady adoption of technology in patient lives, and a reduction in the price of said technology, medications and their utilization may inevitably be more closely followed through mobile devices.



Timothy Aungst, PharmD
Timothy Aungst, PharmD
Timothy Dy Aungst, PharmD, is an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at MCPHS University. He graduated from Wilkes University Nesbitt School of Pharmacy and completed a PGY-1 Pharmacy Practice Residency at St. Luke's University Hospital, and then a Clinical Geriatric Fellowship at MCPHS University. He is passionate about the rise of technology in health care and its application to pharmacy. He has published primarily on the role of mobile technology and mHealth, and made multiple national and international presentations on those topics. He blogs at TheDigitalApothecary.com, and you can find him on Twitter @TDAungst.
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