Veta smart cases take EpiPens to the next level
Product uses Bluetooth technology to pair EpiPen with handheld devices.
From the Canadian Healthcare Network
Published on March 18, 2016 for Pharmacy Practice Plus
Photo from www.aterica.com
Recently, a friend and I were discussing her child’s food allergies. She told me about how an accidental exposure at a ski resort had her administering the EpiPen to her young child and then choosing to either race down the mountain to meet an ambulance or await a helicopter to airlift them to hospital.
To her, being the mom of a child with severe anaphylactic allergies means constant vigilance, emergency preparedness and “EpiPens all over us when we go anywhere and at home.”
My friend and her daughter were on my mind when I visited the offices of Aterica last fall. Aterica is a Waterloo-based start-up that has developed the Veta Smart Case for the EpiPen (epinephrine 0.6 mg) or EpiPen Jr (epinephrine 0.3 mg) auto-injectors. The primary target users are parents and caregivers of allergic children who are managing anaphylactic allergies in the context of busy lives.
This is a product that appears to have solid potential
The Veta Smart Case uses Bluetooth technology to pair the EpiPen with a handheld device such as a smartphone or iPod Touch. The companion app serves as a command centre for emergency alerts, reminders and location services.
There are two types of alerts associated with the Veta Smart Case. The treatment alert is designed to ensure a rapid emergency response. Whenever an EpiPen/EpiPen Jr is removed from the case, the child’s smartphone notifies the parent or caregiver’s phone, which will emit a loud noise.Optional notification settings include a text message, push notification or email depending on the user settings.
The second type of alert is designed to ensure users are never without an EpiPen. Users are alerted whenever they get too far from their pens—roughly the distance between a house and the end of a driveway.
The Veta Smart Case reminders focus primarily on the proper maintenance of the EpiPens. Epinephrine is a fickle chemical that needs to be protected from light, stored between 15–30oC and replaced yearly. The smart case has a temperature monitor and alerts users when it exceeds the temperature range set by the user and the app has an expiry feature to remind users when it is time to pick up a new pen.
Other useful features include location tracking to find a misplaced pen and a GPS tracker to help parents and caregivers locate their children during an anaphylactic reaction.
I first met Aterica’s CEO, Alex Leyn, a few years back when he was gathering a team of engineers, physicians and scientists to compete in the $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize competition. The goal of the competition is to develop a handheld noninvasive device that measures vitals and diagnoses medical conditions by simply scanning the patient.
In the years since meeting Leyn, it was interesting to see how the Aterica team has refocused their interdisciplinary efforts on building tools that make it easier to manage anaphylactic allergies. While most digital interventions nowadays seem to focus on the next best app, Leyn told me that they realized early on that an app will not save a life, but an EpiPen will.
There appear to be two different categories of potential users for the Veta Smart Case. The main users are likely to be busy families who need to manage a child’s life-threatening allergies across school, extracurricular activities and playdates. Other potential users are teens and adults who are managing their own allergies.
Leyn noted that people experiencing an anaphylactic reaction can be embarrassed and move to a private location to avoid making a scene. Because they run the risk of collapsing before they can call for help, the case can be used to trigger an alert for their own support circle.
Ultimately, the Veta Smart Case seems like a smart move forward for tech-savvy caregivers and allergic individuals. With the goals of supporting an emergency response, connecting families and managing EpiPens, this is a product that appears to have solid potential.
Patients interested in the Veta Smart Case can pre-order it at www.aterica.com for $59 USD. Shipping is expected to begin by the end of February 2016. Bulk discounts are available for patients purchasing multiple cases from the website. The Veta Smart Case does not require Health Canada approval.
Aterica is aiming to have cases available to pharmacies in the coming year. A video introducing the Veta Smart Case and app is also available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSazAnTS1aA.