Adding connectivity to a range of auto-injectors

Challenge

Demonstrate the potential value of adding connectivity to Bespak by Recipharm’s innovative VapourSoft® powered range of auto-injectors.

Approach

Our cross-functional team worked with Bespak by Recipharm to develop a connected demonstrator to allow the evaluation of functionality for different devices and use cases. Low-cost development technologies and prototyping techniques enabled the project to progress quickly without the need for significant investment in hardware and software development.

Outcome

We developed a proof-of-concept connected module to fit inside the rear cap of Bespak by Recipharm’s existing auto-injector, along with an iOS application, cloud database and web portal. The demonstrator device and connected system showed the potential for incorporating sensing technology. Sensing would allow collection of valuable data and insight from users and encourage patient adherence by providing a considered and supportive user experience.

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Connected solution for drug delivery

The success of digital and connected health relies on emerging connectivity technologies, good user experience (UX) design, and the development of the Internet of Medical Things devices. Connected health solutions in drug delivery are progressing rapidly to provide valuable data on device use.

Bespak by Recipharm had an innovative range of auto-injectors. They asked Team Consulting to explore the benefits of adding connectivity to this platform. Potential benefits included adherence measurement, insight for intervention and opportunities to promote behaviour change.

The rapid development of functional demonstrator systems reduces the risk to future development, ensuring that key challenges are addressed early and that the right solution is brought to market.

Ben Cox, Head of Digital Design, Team Consulting

Designing the system

For connected systems to be successful, it is important that the use sequence is robust, seamless and that set-up steps are minimised to ease burden on the user.

Our project team mapped out the use sequence to visualise the system states, describing their behaviour and interactions between the auto-injector, mobile app and back-end. This enabled us to highlight technical requirements and specific design challenges.

1Device pairing

For the demonstrator module, no active pairing step is required; an injection is recorded whether the app is open or not.

2Powering on

The module electronics do not use any power before use, switching on automatically just before the device is activated.

3Sensing

At the point of activation, various parameters including time, orientation, temperature, and force are recorded.

4Data transmission

A data package is transmitted via Bluetooth including sensor data, in addition to device and therapy information.

Prototype electronics

We selected off-the-shelf components for the electronics development. This helped us to quickly meet the project requirements for sensing orientation and temperature, in addition to providing a microcontroller and Bluetooth low energy connectivity. This compact module, packed with sensors, was ideal for creating a concept demonstrator and initial prototype before investing further in hardware and software development. We also designed a rigid printed circuit board to interface with the development kit and used prototypes to develop the firmware and test core functionality.

Integration with an existing package

Carbon 3D prototyping was used to generate a chassis to house the electronics and secure the module to the auto-injector casework. This technique was chosen to ensure the prototype parts could be used for numerous demonstrations and to be able to withstand forces during activation and injection.

The optimised, single-use concept design for volume production adds less than 5% to the auto-injector length.

App design

We used digital design and prototyping tools to efficiently design a companion app and web portal in a few weeks to demonstrate full system functionality. We gave careful consideration to features and functions that could add value both from a patient and healthcare professional perspective.

person sitting at desk drawings

The user experience was designed to be supportive, guide a new patient through the process and also work in the background once a patient becomes more confident with their medication.

Chris Davies, UX Designer, Team Consulting

Invisibly intelligent hardware

The connected module mimics the form of the existing rear cap of the auto-injector to ensure the integration appears seamless. This allows the module to be easily removed from a used auto-injector and attached to a new one, for demonstration purposes, without affecting performance.

picture of an injector
iphone with app on screen

Complementary interfaces

The patient-facing iOS app we built ensures an accurate record of doses taken, providing a clear visual state change when an injection is due. Additional prescription information is included, and a data feature offers a friendly guide to adherence without overwhelming the patient.

The responsive web portal provides healthcare professionals or clinical sites with the necessary details to monitor adherence and keep track of a patient population. Technical data for each injection is also captured, including metrics such as orientation and temperature, in addition to device and therapy information. For demonstration purposes, a list of most recent doses is presented to highlight when a new injection has been transmitted from the iOS app to the database.

Our approach enabled Bespak by Recipharm to quickly get a prototype device into the hands of users and commercial partners.

Team understood our requirements to embody connectivity in a way that would be flexible in its usage and minimally invasive to the existing device functionality. They were able to rapidly deliver a connected demonstrator system to support stakeholder engagement to understand
and validate needs.

Alastair Willoughby, Development Manager, Recipharm

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