Direct Streaming of near Real-Time Prescription Adherence Data to Clinicians, Healthcare Providers; Using AT&T Connectivity Marks Significant Step Forward for Intent’s Mission
Intent Solutions, an Atlanta-based company that provides technology to secure medications and track prescription adherence, is collaborating with AT&T to integrate LTE-M cellular technology into the new release of Intent’s tad™ dispensing system.
This marks a significant step forward in Intent’s effort to bring its unique service to a wide range of settings in which patient adherence to medication regimens is critical to success.
Scheduled for launch in 2020, the new cellular version of tad will enable direct streaming of near real-time prescription adherence data from tad’s secure pill dispenser to a portal for viewing and management by an individual’s pharmacist, physician or clinical trial project manager. The current version of tad requires Bluetooth pairing between the dispenser and a smartphone or tablet to stream data to the portal so it can be tracked and managed by caregivers. If the user does not have access to a smartphone or tablet, usage data is currently collected when the device is returned to the pharmacist. By using AT&T’s LTE-M network, devices can be connected “out of the box” without the complexity of setting up Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
LTE-M is a low-power wide-area cellular network designed for the Internet of Things that operates in licensed spectrum with carrier-grade security. AT&T has deployed LTE-M across the United States and Mexico with roaming in Canada. Devices on the network can be configured to go dormant when not in use, enabling longer battery life, cost savings, lower data usage and a host of uses such as utility meters, leak detectors, street lights and smart appliances, healthcare patient monitors and smart wearables—and soon Intent’s tad dispensing system.
The right dose at the right time to the right person
“We welcome this new relationship with AT&T and the ability to streamline the tad system with the company’s LTE-M cellular technology,” said Sam Zamarripa, Intent’s CEO. “By eliminating the need to pair the tad dispenser with a smartphone or tablet, AT&T LTE-M technology will make it easier for caregivers to track prescription adherence more closely throughout each day. In so doing, it will help ensure we fulfill our mission of dispensing the right dose at the right time to the right person.”
Registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a Class 1 medical device, tad will be outfitted in the new release with an internal antenna and cellular module in place of the Bluetooth components in the current version. Users will still benefit from a smartphone app to receive reminders and view prescription information and usage data, as they do today.
“Our LTE-M technology is helping to change lives and transform business, and we’re proud to make it part of Intent Solutions’ dispensing system,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice president of AT&T’s Advanced Mobility and Enterprise Solutions group. “Healthcare solutions are advancing rapidly because of IoT connectivity. We look forward to being part of the next generation of pill security and technology that delivers new insight into how individuals take prescription medications.”
The new release is the first step in an ongoing effort to add enhanced features to tad. According to Zamarripa, other updates are on the horizon and will include further refinement of the existing technology and dispensing methods.
Eliminating access to unsecured, open bottles of pills
The tad system includes a locked, handheld device that dispenses a pill via fingerprint access and transmits usage data that can be visualized in a data portal by clinicians and healthcare providers. Slightly larger than a deck of playing cards, the dispenser is filled, locked and programmed by a pharmacist or other authorized individual. Pills are dispensed only on the programmed regimen and only to the intended person such as a patient or research subject.
Why is pill security important? Prescription medicine has the power to improve quality of life and to save lives if it is taken as directed, and by the intended persons. Unfortunately, nearly half of all prescriptions are not taken as prescribed, resulting in over 125,000 annual deaths in the United States from adherence-related causes, creating an enormous economic burden on the U.S. healthcare system and a $637B annual revenue loss to the global pharmaceutical industry. The opioid epidemic alone cost $500B in 2015 and led to more than 46,000 deaths in the United States in 2016. Non-adherence includes taking more or less medication than prescribed, skipping doses and the misuse, abuse and diversion of medication.
“The problem boils down to the open pill bottle and very little insight into what really happens with those pills when they’re passed from the pharmacist to the patient,” Zamarripa said.
tad: for prescriptions that pose high health and financial risks
An acronym for “take as directed,” tad is a simple prevention system that comprises both device and software. It is different from current standards of physical prevention through its potential ability to limit access to loose pills far more effectively while collecting previously unavailable data on prescription adherence patterns. The goal is to help healthcare providers and those conducting clinical trials better understand what happens to prescription medications once they go home with the patient.
tad’s end users are patients taking pills, but especially those who are (a) prescribed medication with highly-addictive properties, (b) prescribed medication which must be taken as directed to cure a life-threatening condition, or (c) research subjects who participate in expensive and/or potentially risky drug trials. Recently, tad was selected to be part of a University of Kentucky project to eliminate hepatitis C in one Appalachian county by making available the drug that can cure the disease and closely monitoring patients to be sure they regularly take the right dosage.