Dosell: The Home Health Hub Keeping Track of Your Meds

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number and proportion of people aged 60 years and older is increasing. In 2019, there were 1 billion people over the age of 60 and that number will increase to 1.4 billion by 2030 and 2.1 billion by 2050, an unprecedented increase and one that will accelerate in the coming decades, particularly in developing countries. Such an increase in the ageing population will require changes and adaption across myriad sectors, most particularly the health sector, where there will be less people to care for an increasing number of patients. This is where technology will play a critical role: iZafe, the Swedish med tech company, has developed a safe and simple solution that enables patients to take the right medications at the right time and in the right way.

As we age, our health challenges, in general, increase, and those health challenges can likely mean an increase in the medications we take – often ten or fifteen tablets a day, all of which need to be taken at different times and/or with different criteria, such as with food (or without). In the acute care units at Stockholm hospitals, nearly half of all patients experience problems with medication and often these problems are the result of not know or not remember which medication should be taken, and if the elderly patient continues to live at home, trying to navigate when and how to take a cocktail of meds can be confusing.

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Swedish med tech company iZafe develops medical and digital security solutions that enable safer drug handling at home. Their pharmaceutical robot Dosell simplifies taking medication at the right time and in the right way, while also increasing safety and allowing patients to remain in their homes living a full and safe life.

“The global elderly population is growing because we’re living longer, but we’re not going to have enough people to take care of the elderly, so we need digital health products to assist healthcare workers in caring for patients,” explains Anders Segerström, CEO iZafe. “Digital health products will also help people stay in their own homes for longer, instead of having to go into a care home, which is a win for everyone.

“Dosell is a connected pill dispensing robot that reminds patients when they need to take their medication – and if a dose is missed, an alert is sent to care givers, which can mean health workers, family, or other concerned parties, such as family and friends. We have developed this product on our own and have taken the time to get it exactly as we want it, so this is a product we can stand for and sell in volume.”

The ‘business’ version of Dosell has been on the market for several years. The result of feedback and knowledge gained from having hundreds of the machines out in the market is a new, updated commercial version of Dosell, which will initially be launched in Sweden through national Swedish pharmacy chain Apoteket AB, before being launched in a number of other countries through local distributors.

“We did a pilot in Sweden with 20 random patients, who used and evaluated the commercial version of Dosell,” says Anders Segerström. “We received some really great feedback on the user experience, which helped us focus on what we needed to change or adjust, and how we could improve the app for the customer experience. The biggest thing we learned was that the people who took part in the pilot were very, very pleased with their Dosell – it was simple to use, and 95% of them asked how they could keep it and how much it cost.”

Consumers won’t see any difference between the commercial and business version of Dosell, because the main difference is in the backend. The business version of Dosell is sold through partners who are selling a whole platform of healthcare solutions, which could mean a bed alarm, window alarm, blood pressure monitoring, and of course, a pill dispensing machine. What is different is that Dosell can be integrated into these larger platforms, becoming part of a larger, overall connected healthcare solution.

When it comes to the business version of Dosell, it’s one piece of the puzzle. Together with other digitized healthcare products, healthcare workers will be able to get a much fuller picture of the patient, which can have far-reaching, positive implications for healthcare overall. For the commercial version, for private individuals, the patient and/or their family chooses to use Dosell as a way of monitoring their meds.

Anders Segerström CEO iZafe

“One of our patients who tried the consumer version was a mom who wanted to make sure her daughter took her medicine at the correct time, as it was really important. The daughter called Dosell her best friend, because it was so helpful in keeping her on track with her meds.”

With iZafe launching with Apoteket AB in Sweden, it will be simple for consumers to integrate Dosell into their lives. Apoteket pharmacies will prepare the dose packs as a service, where the patient gets the medicine in a roll of sachets – little bags with the daily dosages – which are easily put into the Dosell. It’s as simple as one, two, three and the patient is good to go.

IoT & connectivity

While the iZafe solution for Dosell is simple, it wouldn’t work without IoT and connectivity. Tele2 IoT provides the SIM cards and connectivity that connect Dosell to the app on user’s phones, so that health professionals and family or friends are not only able to monitor the proper dispensation of medication, they can also ensure the correct dosage and even the correct type. This drastically reduces the chance of a patient taking the wrong medication, or the right medication in the wrong dosage or at the wrong time.

“To keep Dosell operating we need connectivity,” says Anders Segerström. “Connectivity is not only what sends the signal/alarm if someone doesn’t take their medication, it also allows us to receive reports and change settings through the backend. We can also identify maintenance issues and send updates. And we have a second backup because if Dosell doesn’t report every second hour as it should, an alarm is sent. With this kind of solution, having reliable connectivity is crucial.”

IZafe manages its SIMs with 2CONTROL (Cisco IoT Control Center), which allows them to see how they’re using data, if there are any special or unusual trends, or if the machine is working in an unusual way.

The data

iZafe aggregates data from Dosell through their own platform, which is hosted on AWS and thus gives them ample possibilities to expand. While all data is securely transferred, not much personal data is saved, other than what is needed to deliver the service.

“We don’t store any data around a specific person,” explains Anders Segerström. “We have data about how people change their behavior by using Dosell, but that does not include personal details. But having the data around behavior will be a big plus for companies like Apoteket, who will be able to see which medicines people are taking, how they are taking it, such as the right time, etc., and that data will be important in helping them understand what happens if a patient takes their meds 100% as prescribed or if they don’t. It will no longer be anecdotal information, but confirmed data, which will help with research and help improve healthcare services, which is the ultimate goal when we digitalize healthcare: it must get better, and this kind of data will contribute to that.”

As digitized healthcare products become part of a larger digital healthcare ecosystem, data from things like heart rate, blood pressure, med compliance, and other markers will combine to give a fuller picture to healthcare providers with less costs – and data will contribute to and back up decision-making, as well as research and other parameters within healthcare.

“Digital online doctors can look right on the screen and see all the data, then analyze and use it to adjust meds and other things based on values they see. This will mean much more precise and will deliver better care, both short and long term – something that is already happening, because digitization of healthcare is well underway.”

The future

iZafe has plans to add a lot of top ups and gamifications in the Dosell app. From their pilot they can see that it is very important for loved ones to see that their mother is taking the medicine, so that function will be improved.  They also plan to send updates to patients tell them they have taken their medicine at the right time and well done! Or maybe gently telling them that they have not been taking their meds at the right time, so they should try to get back on track.

“We may also at some point add a second display, so that when we partner with other companies we can integrate easily.”

iZafe is also looking beyond the borders of Sweden, particularly at Europe, but also at the US. The will be sending 5 Dosells to Italy, where they will start their own pilot in order to see and understand the subscription model. With the subscription model, the Dosell solution will be sold through a service called Simply Pharma, where patients go to the local pharmacy and signs a contract for the Simply Pharma service, and then the local pharmacy creates the pill sachets, which will be refilled every second week.

Where competitors have focused on super-advanced solutions, with lots of bells and whistles, so they are complicated and expensive. IZafe has focused on a cost-effective product that is simple to use.

“Somewhere in the future real integration of digitized health needs to happen – and it needs to happen pretty quickly. For us, that means making Dosell extremely easy to integrate so that different parts of digital health can come together in a smooth and effective way. It’s already starting to happen and we’re prepared to be part of the solution.”

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