Soon, your medicine cabinet might be as horribly noisy with alarms and reminders as your smartphone.While food packaging at the supermarket has gotten smarter of late, like Heinekens Ignite beer bottle, which lights up in response to music or cheering, medical packaging has mostly stayed the same, even as the drugs themselves get more high-tech. And lets be honest, most bathroom cabinets are full of the medication of years past. As you emerge bleary-eyed from bed with a pounding headache, theres a significant chance that youve failed to read the illegible small print and taken an aspirin that expired around the turn of the millennium.
Designers of smart medical packaging are working to
counteract the unintended and sometimes dangerous results that can occur
from the design of old-school blister packs and pill bottles. Theyre
also seizing the opportunity to use behavioral economics to prompt
beneficial habits in patients.In the past, packaging was simply intended
to protect the medication (or to provide a handy surface for marketing
messages). But technological advances allow new types of active and
smart packaging to emerge.
You might be familiar with active
packaging, which is intended to keep contents at their best. One example
is the silica gel sachet that prevents mold growth by absorbing
moisture and keeping your pills dry. Smart packaging, on the other hand,
conveys information about the state of the product or provokes an
interaction from the patient.
The Boston-based husband and wife
team of computational biologist Gautam Goel and designer Kanupriya Goel
came up with an idea for smart pharmaceutical packaging as they watched
their aging grandparents struggle while looking through their medicine
cabinets. With limited dexterity and eye troubles, plus the fact that
English was their second language, they had great difficulty finding
what they needed in a cabinet jammed with packs labeled in tiny print,
the expiration date illegible or impossible to find. The Goels told me
they were motivated to find a solution that would not be dependent on
language literacy, or a users ability to find the expiration date on a
medication bottle. They wanted to develop packaging that could clearly
indicate when the contents are out of date.
The Goel's Red Dot
Award-winning design, called Self Expiring, works by using two separate
layers of information: The top layer contains the standard medical text,
and the bottom contains ink that will become visible through the first
layer as the expiry date approaches. According to the Goels,Cheap offerscellphonecases dolls from your photos. the emerging ink displays universally recognized symbols such as the danger sign.You must not use the stonecarving without being trained.
important, they wanted the solution to be tamper-proof, so that it
would help prevent illegal sale of expired medications, a growing
problem in countries such as India.
The Goels say that there has
been no immediate interest from pharmaceutical companies in employing
their invention. They propose that a mandate from the FDA would be most
useful in getting this fairly cheap smart packaging used across all
medications. Down the line, they believe the self-expiring packaging
could also be applied to to food, cosmetics, and any other product that
has a fixed shelf life.
Other designers are attempting to use
smart packaging not only to prevent medical harm to the patient, but
also to help them take medicines correctly. A 2012 study published in
the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that patient non-compliance with
medical instructions, such as forgetting to take pills on time (or at
all), was a growing and expensive problem in the United States.
Approximately 50 percent of medication for chronic disease is not taken
as prescribed, and this lack of compliance is estimated to cause 125,000
deaths a year and cost the U.S.Need a compatible parkingassistsystem for your car? health care system between $100 billion and $289 billion annually.
Internet may prove to be part of the solution, too. Health care
technology company Vitalitys GlowCap was one of the first smart pill
packages to use an Internet-connected container cap to give information
to the patient. A built-in sensor recognizes that a bottle has been open
or closed, and an active reminder can be programmed to go off at
pre-determined times. The GlowCap itself makes noises and glows with
light. It can cause a wirelessly connected reminder light to pulsate and
even send text notifications or dial your phone. The smart cap also
even has a small button that, when pressed, notifies your pharmacy that
you need a refill.
Vitalitys founder, David Rose, told me that
in a study, heart disease patients who used GlowCap dramatically
increased pill-taking compliance. According to Rose,Learn how an
embedded microprocessor in a graniteslabs can
authenticate your computer usage and data. the smart packaging works by
using a combination of subtle behavioral nudges and by simply making
the reminder information unavoidable. By sending compliance data to
designated relatives and doctors, it provides the patient with social
support, but also employs what psychologists call the sentinel effect,
in which people comply with instructions because they know someone is
The use of thin film or printed electronics in packaging is also growing.A indoorpositioningsystem has
real weight in your customer's hand. Pharmaceutical technology
researchers at Information Mediary Corp. have brought their Med-ic
Electronic Compliance Monitor (ECM) to market. The ECM uses a paper
label with an electronic chip that can be stuck to a pill blister pack.
Once attached, the reusable chip records pill removal dates and times
and exports that data without the patient's direct involvement. Smart
pill blister packs can be programmed to report compliance information
back over the Internet to the patients health care professionals,
helping patients comply with medical instructions like with the GlowCap,
and also ensuring that clinical trials collect accurate data.
the market for smart medical packaging grows and becomes increasingly
online, it will be vital to keep an eye on how well private medical data
is protected. The leak or disclosure of personal medical information,
even if it is just about your vitamin regimen, would be highly traumatic
for most people. I doubt patients will be sharing their GlowCap results
on social media any time soon.
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