Only 50% of people with chronic conditions adhere to their medication regimen, according to the World Health Organization.
Poor adherence is directly linked to poor outcomes and increased likelihood of hospitalizations.
Cognizant of this fact, digital health startups are developing products that help patients adhere to their prescribed medications.
One of these companies, AdhereTech, just raised $1.75 million in Series A funding from unnamed investors, according to a company statement.
This comes a week after it secured a second patent in the United States for its smart pill bottle that reminds patients to take the right pills on time.
Developed by researchers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), AdhereTech’s smart pill bottle has built-in sensors that detect how often a patient opens it. According to the company’s website:
“If a dose is missed, AdhereTech reminds the patient via automated phone call or text message – and on-bottle lights and chimes.”
The bottle automatically sends data to servers in real-time, and the system contacts the patient as soon as the dose is missed. Additionally, it asks the patient for reasons why a dose was missed.
The system stores and analyzes patients’ responses for possible immediate intervention.
For instance, if a patient reports adverse effects from taking a medication, the system refers the patient to a case manager who can contact the patient and give prompt advice remotely. Instead of having the patient wait for the next doctor’s appointment, which can take several days or weeks, the issue can be addressed right away.
The company plans to use the fresh capital to further develop its patented, HIPAA-compliant, FDA-registered Class I medical device to drive medication adherence.
“We’ve already received tremendous interest from pharmaceutical companies, contract research organizations, and research institutions. This affirms our view that there’s a large unmet need for this technology,”
Josh Stein, Chief Executive Officer, AdhereTech, said in its statement.
“To accommodate this growing demand, we are scaling up. A sizable percentage of our Series A funding will go toward designing and building our Generation 2 smart pill bottles. The functionality and technology will remain very similar to our Gen 1 bottles, but the Gen 2 bottles will be smaller, cheaper, and easier to mass manufacture – with some additional enhancements, too.”
AdhereTech intends to roll out the second generation smart pill bottles next year. It will feature the same adherence notification and transmission technology included in a second patent that the company just secured.
“This recently granted patent allows AdhereTech to continue developing innovative solutions to improve the health and well being of patients, especially within the area of medication adherence,”
Stein said in a separate statement issued by the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
“This is AdhereTech’s second patent, and it helps to define the company’s scope and vision, as a growing connected medical device firm. In fact, we have more demand for our product than we can accommodate at the moment, so we are scaling up.”
AdhereTech said it was pleased with the results of a pilot study it did last year involving patients at The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
The company said it is expanding its program and is talking with unnamed pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, and research institutions which wants to use the company’s smart pill bottles in dispensing medications used to treat cancer, stroke and HIV.
Other digital health startups who are offering adherence improvement solutions include:
- RxAnte - an analytics firm who identifies non-compliant patients
- Mango Health - a company using gamification techniques to reward “prizes” to patients who adhere to their prescription regimen
- Proteus Digital Health - maker of wearable and ingestible sensors that give clinicians direct confirmation of patient adherence.