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6 November, 2017 - 16:18 By Kate Sweeney

No hiding place as tell-tale tech reveals how patients use their auto-injector

diialog sensing technology CDP

Tell-tale technology that reveals whether patients are self-injecting their drugs properly or even missing doses – as well as highlighting any problems in the functionality of auto-injectors – has been developed by Cambridge Design Partnership (CDP).

The sophisticated uptick on auto-injectors is being demonstrated by the technology and product design business at a global expo in Vienna tomorrow and Wednesday (November 7 & 8).

CDP believes the new approach to drug delivery device development will transform the experience of patients who face the challenge of regularly injecting themselves as part of their treatment for chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

It has applied its user insight service diialog™ to an auto-injector to unlock the secrets of creating a truly patient-friendly drug delivery device.

The diialog service throws a spotlight on two measures that suggest how easy or difficult a patient finds using their auto-injector. The first is ‘dwell time’ – how long a patient hesitates before actually injecting themselves once they’ve prepared the device. 

The second is ‘cap removal force’, which in the worst-case scenario can lead to a patient accidentally stabbing themselves with the needle during their preparations for injection.

As well as auto-injectors, diialog could be used in the development of any other drug delivery devices as well as over-the-counter diagnostic products such as pregnancy tests. It has already been successfully deployed in the cosmetics and sports industries.

“Our aim is to put the patient at the centre of drug delivery device development,” said Tom Lawrie-Fussey, healthcare digital strategist at CDP. “But to do that you need detailed, reliable information about how a patient uses their auto-injector in the privacy of their own home. A patient might tell their doctor they never miss a dose of their medication – but in reality they might skip some of their injections because they are too awkward to administer.

“Drug delivery device developers are required to meet regulatory human factors requirements. But accurate information about usability and the whole patient experience is also crucial if a great idea is to go beyond those requirements and translate into a successful product that is patient friendly and delivers improved health outcomes.

“Yet trial users of a new device often tell you what they think you want to hear. With the help of diialog, you can discover what really happens – whether the device is used correctly and the drug is stored at the correct temperature, for example, or whether an elderly patient struggles to remove the cap.”

Tom Lawrie-Fussey CDP
Tom Lawrie-Fussey, healthcare digital strategist at CDP

The miniature sensing technology used by diialog is small enough to fit inside an existing clinical trial injector and can monitor a range of key factors such as orientation, preparation sequence and injection technique.
Another crucial element is the sophisticated algorithms that analyse the data and translate it into an accurate picture of how a device is being used in the real world. The technology is even programmed to ignore ‘false positives’, such as movements due to patients carrying their device around in their bag.

“With diialog we can translate a stream of data into valuable information for our clients to enable them to make more informed investment decisions,” said Tom.

“It complements their existing research techniques and can help minimise the risks, especially for pharma companies facing the challenge of migrating to device development.

“Another benefit of diialog is that it can provide a practical stepping stone for companies that are new to connected device development. Our clients are able to quickly assess the return on investment for their own specific product requirements – and hence de-risk their connected device development pathway.

“A diialog user trial enables them to select the sensors, on-board processing and data connectivity features that generate the most value – and avoid investing in technology options that ultimately won’t give them sufficient patient adoption.”

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