iCura, subsidiary of Telaric Ideas
Innovation: The iCura home center, an automated device for taking prescription medications
Prescription medications can come with complex instructions that can be difficult for anyone to understand. Some medications must be taken several times a day; some should be taken with water, with a meal or on an empty stomach. Add multiple prescriptions to the mix and the situation gets even more complicated. Carlos De La Huerga, founder of Telaric Ideas, an innovation and intellectual property firm based in Mequon, has developed iCura to help alleviate some of that complexity.
De La Huerga has designed and patented iCura, which helps patients more effectively and correctly take prescription medications. He has also founded the company iCura, which currently operates as a subsidiary of Telaric Ideas.
“Reports indicate people incorrectly taking prescription medication is the biggest problem in treating illnesses in this country,” De La Huerga said. “The World Health Organization estimates that 50 percent of patients worldwide either incorrectly take their medications or forget to take their medications, which results in more hospital admissions per year, which costs nearly an additional $1.5 million.”
Accidental misuse of prescription medication kills about 120,000 people a year, and if it were categorized properly, misuse of prescription medication would be the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., De La Huerga said.
“This is a serious concern, and we’re hoping that the iCura product can help alleviate some of those issues,” he said.
The iCura home center is specifically designed to make taking prescription medications easier, and alleviates some of the pitfalls traditionally associated with taking medications, including complex directions, unreadable labels, or unidentifiable pills.
“In the past, people have relied on pill boxes and alarm clocks or timers,” De La Huerga said. “Alarms can be overwhelming and it can become dangerous if the pill box spills and the patient can’t identify the different pills.”
Using a special printer, pharmacy’s carrying the iCura home center device will label patient medication bottles with a label that includes a radio frequency identification barcode (RFID), De La Huerga said.
The RFID tag will be encrypted with the dosage and instructions for taking the medication, he said.
“Once the tubes or bottles have the RFID label on them, they can be inserted into the iCura home center device,” he said. “The device reads the encrypted RFID instructions and is automatically programmed with the dosage information to instruct patients when to take their medications.”
The iCura home center uses technology similar to what is used in a cell phone, and plays a selected ringtone when it is time to take a medication, De La Huerga said.
“No one, but particularly elderly patients, responds well to constant beeping or annoying alarms,” he said. “The iCura home center is automatically programmed to play a pleasant ring tone and flash a green light when it’s time to take that particular medication.”
Once the pill bottle is picked up, instructions for taking the medication appear on the display screen and are also read out loud by the device, De La Huerga said. If the wrong medication bottle is removed from the device, a warning message about not taking that medication will be displayed and an audible warning message will also sound.
“We knew if our device was going to work we had to remove the complicated steps and effectively allow the patients to guide themselves in taking their medications properly,” De La Huerga said. “The iCura home center tells them exactly when to take their (medications) how much they need to take, and exactly how to take their medications on a daily basis.”
The cellular communication capabilities of the device can also assist in automated refill ordering, De La Huerga said.
Telaric Ideas is not currently mass manufacturing the iCura product, but plans to roll out beta versions at assisted living facility pharmacies to gather more research data.
“One of the main reasons why elderly patients move from an assisted living facility to a more permanent eldercare or skilled nursing facility is their inability to properly take their own medications,” De La Huerga said. “They certainly aren’t the only market for the product, but they are a major market and we plan to launch the beta version of the device there to find where limitations exist.”
The company plans to launch the product in two stages with the internal pharmacies of independent senior living facilities and the development of a less expensive retail pharmacy model, De La Huerga said.
“We expect to expand into the independent senior living market over the next four to five months and begin implementing the device into the retail pharmacy market once we write more of the software needed to integrate with current pharmacy systems,” he said.