четверг, 19 июня 2008 г.

Wireless tracking system would monitor when patients take meds

Grandpa off his meds again? A new business partnership may be able to help.

Confidant Inc. of Durham has partnered with packaging company MeadWestvaco to a develop a wireless tracking system that can monitor when patients take their medications.

The partnership, which will target drug and health-care companies, hopes to start selling next year.

Confidant, an 11-employee business founded in 2003, develops mobile-phone-based communication systems that record and transmit patient data for hospitals and other health-care providers.

"If we can also capture information about patients' prescription adherence, we'll have an even fuller set of data for health-care providers to deliver quality care," said Thomas E. Wall, vice president of business development and marketing.

Patients who deviate from their medication treatment programs risk complications and cost the health-care system about $177 billion a year, according to the National Council on Patient Information and Education. The new tracking product under development could save much of that money, Wall said.

As part of the strategic partnership, Confidant will develop wireless communications to link patients and caregivers.

MeadWestvaco Health & Beauty Packaging will craft electronically equipped packages for drugs and medical-devices that transmit data within those systems.

Care providers, for example, will be able to monitor the blood-sugar level and insulin intake of a diabetes patient, Wall said. Unlike traditional pill bottles, packages would have to be designed with the capability to count off specific units of drugs as they are dispensed.

The system begins with a mobile phone that is programmed to capture data from home medical devices or prescription drug packages. It uses Bluetooth short-range wireless technology to transfer the data. The phone then automatically transmits the information to a server where it is cross-checked with patients' medical histories and treatment programs.

"This is an opportunity to reach out to new audiences and improve the lives of patients relying on medication to take control of their health," Wall said. He said the system would also work as a behavior modifier, detecting when patients lapse on their prescribed regimens and issuing reminders.

Wall said that apart from packaging know-how, MeadWestvaco, based in Glen Allen, Va., has relationships with pharmaceutical companies and hospitals needed to market and sell the system.

"We're now trying to define how exactly the product will be used and what investment level is needed," he said.

There will be a children's area.

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