Contact us
  • Home
  • Resource
  • Meet Aptar Digital Health Team: Combining Hardware & Software

Meet Aptar Digital Health Team: Combining Hardware & Software

cover with photo of Joachim, director of research and development for connected devices.

For our new “Meet Aptar Digital Health Team” interview series, we sat down with Joachim Koerner, Director of Research and Development for Connected Devices, to learn more about how hardware and software engineers work together to build connected drug delivery devices.

How do connected drug delivery devices deliver value? Who benefits from the devices?

Patients are the first touchpoint for our connected drug delivery devices. Our mission is to improve patients’ control of their disease with a management tool that provides reminders, education, training and supportive elements. Using these tools, patients can follow their disease evolution and learn more about managing their disease by tracking adherence, potential side effects and the condition of their overall general health. Of course, without the patient, a connected drug delivery device is of little value. Therefore, understanding their journey and training patients is key to ensuring effective and long-term adherence of the devices.

What barriers stand in the way of connected drug delivery device adoption?

By setting up real-world studies and collecting user feedback, we have identified several barriers which can impact the adoption of our solution:

  • Developing a device that requires patients to do more than they usually do today. When you use a drug delivery device for the first time, there are a lot of steps: Unboxing the device, assembling it, downloading the connected app, creating an account, testing the device without the drug in it, and so on. The patient must be highly motivated to complete all these steps and correctly take a treatment. It’s important to analyze each step of product use from day one to ensure long-term usage, eliminating steps that are unnecessary and streamlining the ones that are,
  • We must be careful to ensure that the solution doesn’t replace healthcare professionals (HCPs) but make their daily life easier. When we present our solutions HCPs are often scared that, one day, digital solutions will take their job. Therefore, we are fully transparent when presenting the solution so HCPs perceive the positive impact that the device delivers to patients and the time, along with the cost savings for them and their clinic.
  • Price can also be a barrier to adoption. Most of our solutions are available under prescription meaning that the final user doesn’t directly pay. At some point, however, someone must pay the bill, whether it’s an insurance company, an employer or other private company, or a public reimbursement system. A lack of economic evidence for the benefits of using solutions can be an obstacle. What we put on the market is a new way to take a drug and to improve its adherence. This is a long-term change, but many people think in terms of the price to be paid immediately and not the savings that can be realized over the course of months or years.

With its multidisciplinary expertise, how does Aptar Digital Health work in practice?

Our organization develops multiple products, depending on the medical case. It can be a digital therapeutic only, a drug delivery device only, or a combination of the two.

We approach projects based on which solution will provide the most value to the patient. Most of the time, the patient’s primary benefit is from the physical device because it directly helps him to take his medicine. The digital therapeutic is more for long-term disease management, as it helps to monitor key data such as vital signs, as well as the overall evolution of the disease over time. Combined, digital therapeutics and drug delivery devices can be very powerful, which we’ll discuss below.

Aptar Digital Health organization is split into two teams, with one focused on the device and another on building the software. Communication between both is key to ensure we evolve at the same time, search for a common solution when facing an issue, or work hand in hand to address a challenge.

What key features ensure that patients will remain engagement and use the devices in the long run?

We recommend focusing on two features that help maximize patient engagement and long-term usage.

The first one is to provide direct feedback to the patient, both on the app and on the device. Visual feedback (a light that turns on) or acoustic feedback (a sound) can guide a patient through using a device. It’s important to make patients aware they are doing things correctly or need to stop using a device. Being able to provide feedback without the app is important; patients don’t always have their smartphone with them in the real world, or holding it can be difficult when using a therapeutic device at the same time. Plus, the device will always be there – patients can’t take their treatment without it.

The second one is to consider all the attachments and pairing elements that complexify the use of the device. You must think about intuitive systems. For example, once a treatment is finished, patients must replace the device. Sometimes, this must be done after each use. Think about all the necessary steps: Remove the finished treatment, put it in the trash, clean your hands, clean the device, look for the new treatment, insert it in the device, and check that it’s done properly. All this asks for time and concentration on behalf of the patient. If it’s too complicated to replace the treatment, or if the patient isn’t sure they’ve done it correctly, they will stop using it.

Intuitive attachment and pairing processes will ensure success and engagement. Therefore, simplifying this process as much as possible is key. That way, patients don’t feel like taking their therapy is a burden – instead, it’s a simple and automatic.

Back to top
Follow us: subscribe