Sam Zamarripa, president of Intent Solutions, discusses the future of data ubiquity in pharmaceuticals, and how his company’s innovative dispensing technology can improve the understanding of adherence.

The very definition of adherence is on the brink of change because of new technologies, sensors and real-time data. Intent Solutions is a part of a major shift in the digital health economy where the ability to monitor and stream vast sets of new, real-time data in clinical research and health delivery will reveal how and when people take medications.

For the biomedical health sector, this change is more like the industrial revolution than a simple advancement in technology. The tidal wave of new data – referred to at the firm as ‘data ubiquity’ – will forever change the way we understand what we do, how we make decisions and what we think of as knowledge. This includes the way we think about adherence.

Intent Solutions has developed TAD, which stands for ‘take as directed’: a programmable smart dispenser of medications, which is slightly larger than a mobile phone. Not only can it be programmed, but it can also capture and stream real-time adherence data.

The Intent Solutions technology platform allows trial managers and healthcare professionals to monitor and manage behavioural adherence. Intent Solutions designed TAD to ensure that the right person takes the right dose at the right time. TAD achieves this by using a biometric to control access to pills inside the pill dispenser. It will only dispense the medication as prescribed, and only at the right time.

New frontiers

If you follow the global developments in the data tsunami, you can feel the anxiety surrounding ‘everywhere, all the time’ data. Real-time data is irresistible, but it is becoming obvious that the systems or platforms to manage the data onslaught simply do not exist.

From a management view, it is a mistake to think that human resources and organisation charts have been designed around the new data frontier; that the right person is doing the right job for the right reasons. To accommodate this change, the jobs of the future must be defined with this in mind: who will be the data intermediaries, and how will they translate raw numbers into better science, knowledge and outcomes?

This change will be driven by all of us: by researchers, healthcare systems and practitioners. Our participants and patients are really our customers.

In many respects, data ubiquity is the natural evolution of the cognitive economy, and the next evolution will be framed by digital interpreters and translators. These cognitive intermediaries will use big data technologiesand platforms to map new pathways to better science and health care outcomes.

Thus a new standard of real-time data and information will be adopted in professional fields where anecdote and diaries were once sufficient proxies for adherence.

Improving outcomes

To really make a difference to prescription compliance, we all need to think about adherence in the same way we think about common metrics like blood pressure, or cholesterol level. The metric around how we take medication (the right dose, at the right time), should be as common as knowing how much we weigh.

That type of patient engagement and awareness can be achieved through the disease management programmes along with technology that captures real-time behavioural adherence. It is not one or the other: we need high technology and high touch.

On the patient level, the rules and expectations are changing, and the patient engagement movement is central to this change. Payers are already playing with incentives to reward engagement, to invest patients in their own outcomes.

Technology like TAD is a part of this change and can generate data sets, such as an adherence score, to help people move towards better outcomes.

Intent Solutions views TAD as a tool that gives clinicians and practitioners a smart way to reduce the problems associated with non-adherence, and, ultimately, to improve outcomes, whether they are better research, better health or improved efficiency of medication. Essentially, data ubiquity is the canvas for a new picture of what adherence really means.