A group of University of Wisconsin-Madison students were awarded this month for their efforts to perfect the system by which patients take medication—a prototype for a product called Medcuff.
The prototype is for a product that would be worn on the wrist of the user and have color-coded signals that alert the user to take a certain dosage of his or her medication.
Medcuff is a design that comes out of work done through the Internet of Things Lab on campus, a “brand new lab,” according to a member of the founding group Sandra Bradley. “We’re not a product development lab; we’re about the concept side of things.”
“We had about 70 students show up from all kinds of disciplines—from engineering, computer science, business, retail, communications—it was very much cross-campus,” Bradley said about the first interest meeting the Internet of Things Lab hosted in February.
It was at this first meeting where retail student Dylan Mack proposed his idea for a device that would help patients to consistently use their medication at the right time and in the right dosage. Although he had the idea, Mack did not have the ability to make the prototype on his own.
“At the first meeting people from a lot of different majors came together,” Mack said. The current Medcuff team consists of: Pete Chuliek —a grad student who actually built the protoype; Katie Sullivan—who works on the marketing side of Medcuff and Dylan Mack.
The team spent the spring semester building a prototype of the design, but their work is far from over.
In order to get the product ready for market the team will “focus on making contacts with businesses and investors,” according to Mack.
Mack also said the product currently lacks a screen, something the team wants to develop next semester. They also want to explore creating an outer casing that would exhibit information about the user’s medication, including potential risks.
The path to getting the Medcuff prototype to market is a long one, but Mack is optimistic, saying Medcuff will provide a “competitive advantage” for pharmacies and sees “a lot of value” in potential partnerships with pharmacies such as Walgreens or CVS.
This competitive advantage comes from the users taking more of their medication as a result of the reminder system Medcuff provides, creating more business for pharmacies. Mack noted that $290 billion is spent annually in the health care industry as a result of incorrect usage and consumption of medication.
“I think it really is contacting the actual pharmacies that we need to partner with in order for us to have our device work the way we want it to,” Mack said.
The Medcuff team will continue to work through the Internet of Things Lab in the fall, and is optimistic based on feedback from the Internet of Things Lab exhibition.
“It was a great environment to find the different pieces of the puzzle ... to have that exposure was really great,” Mack said.