Treating the opioid epidemic has challenged researchers and providers for years. Looking at patient adherence — both to opioid substitutes and painkillers — has been an avenue several companies have begun to look at.
Recently Toronto-based nGageIT has unveiled its latest digital health product, NanoSmart, which can use a patient’s breath to determine their medication adherence. The platform includes a biosensor detection technology called the “Noz,” which can fit into their smartphone.
When a patient breathes into the Noz, the dongle is able to pick up on the ingestible nanoparticles of drugs in the users breath, according to the company. This information is then sent to the patient’s mobile phone. The platform can also send doctors notifications about the patient’s adherence behaviors and can alert them when a patient is not adhering to medication as prescribed.
The technology also enables the data to be sent through the cloud directly to a patient’s EHR.
“We are targeting chronic pain patients and other pain management patients who are new to opioids to help prevent dependency and addictive behavior before it happens. Knowing how and when a patient takes a prescribed opioid is critical in preventing dependency and potential addiction,” Jennifer Murdoch, chief operations officer and cofounder of nGageIT, wrote in an email to MobiHealthNews. “nGageIT will provide digital, real-time information such as when the opioid was taken, when the last dose was taken, and how much was taken. Understanding these opioid-taking behaviors is the first step in stopping overuse and eventually dependency — it is known that opioid dependency rises after as few as three doses.
"Connecting the patient and the physician on an ongoing basis will also help the patient better understand possible or expected side-effects and how their particular opioid is acting and reacting for them. ... Appropriate opioid use can be assisted by knowing when and how much the patient is taking by deploying digital medicine solutions in real time; nGageIT can do this.”
Murdoch said that nGageIT has been involved with specialty pharmacy adherence programs for years, but most of the efforts were centered around call center technology.
“Carefully reviewing several technologies and apps, our team quickly recognized that none actually targeted and detected the actual ingestion of the drug. Our CEO Raj Reddy is a pharmacist and scientist, and through his skill and experience designed the NanoSmart Platform; a world-class biosensor that can pick up the scent of a drug once ingested,” Murdoch wrote. “... Our biosensor technology can select a single target NanoSmart particle from the more than 2,500 substances in your breath. In this way we are able to apply an ingestible “bar-code” to any oral tablets and detect the minute a patient ingests that tablet – making the nGageIT digital solution the world's most sensitive detector of its kind.”
Earlier this year, nGageIT also announced that it had just completed validation trials for its new product, iSenz, a smart, noninvasive injection monitoring system that aims to help people correctly angle their injections. Like the new technology for opioid addiction, this too can track the patients usage and send the log to the provider.
Murdoch said nGageIT is seeking collaborative partnerships with innovative investors, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and healthcare systems to commercialize and scale NanoSmart. The company is now working with Ohio state health system to look at how this technology could help the state handle the opioid epidemic.