Hillel's Tech Corner: Hospital treatment at home

Imagine a world where you can undergo rehabilitation and many types of medical treatment in your own home, on your own time, without sharing a room with other patients.

Hospital treatment at home (photo credit: Courtesy)
Hospital treatment at home
(photo credit: Courtesy)
I think we can all agree that hospitals, for those who need to visit them, are among the most miserable places on Earth. No one likes spending time in a hospital, but we all understand that they are a necessary part of life. Or are they? I mean, did you ever stop to think what percentage of the treatment you get in a hospital actually has to be done in a hospital, as opposed to the comfort of your own home?
The concept of medical self-administration, while a growing trend in the healthcare industry, presents two primary challenges. The first one is that patient adherence to self-administered treatment is extremely low – at only about 50% – due mainly to the complexities and extra burdens it places on the user.
The second challenge is that the nature of injectable drugs is changing. Recent advances have seen new drugs entering the market. These biologics, used primarily in oncology and cardiology treatments, have a higher viscosity and larger volumes than chemically synthesized drugs, and so require an alternative delivery system to traditional hand-held injectors.
Having said that, imagine a world where you can undergo rehabilitation and many types of medical treatment in your own home, on your own time, without sharing a room with other patients and running the risk of hospital-acquired infection.
Sorrel Medical – a company born in 2015 out of the Eitan Group subsidiary Q Core Medical, with headquarters in Netanya and a business development team in Pennsylvania – aims to overcome both these challenges.
Starting with just four executives – CEO Dr. Andrei Yosef, R&D director Dr. Ori Ben-David, product director Mindy Katz and board member Shaul Eitan – Sorrel now numbers 30 employees. As part of the Eitan Group, the company was able to utilize key resources from Q Core, leveraging their experience in infusion products and R&D capabilities.
While a number of companies have been actively developing wearable drug delivery devices, these did not address the key challenges of wearable drug delivery – namely of providing a solution that does not interfere with a pharmaceutical company’s processes and allows them to use a primary container (containing the drug within the device) of their own choosing, while simultaneously providing an easy-to-use system that will encourage patient adherence to treatment.
Sorrel’s solution is a device that is prefilled and preloaded with medication, enabling pharma companies to maintain the drug’s quality and sterility, while reducing costs and time-to-market. Sorrel also designed their device to be primary container agnostic, providing drug developers the freedom to use the primary container of their own choice, which would further reduce complexities and time-to-market.
The prefilled and preloaded device also addresses the constant challenge of ensuring that patients keep to their treatment routines by providing a reliable and easy-to-use system. Patients receive their device ready-to-use, without having to purchase medication separately and manually fill the device themselves. This enhances the overall patient experience and reduces the risk of medication errors to encourage patient adherence to therapy.
Sorrel’s device is easily attached to the patient’s body via a sticker patch. Multiple smart sensors and a series of internal system checks – as well as visual, audio and tactile indicators – guarantee successful self-administration. With one press of a button, medication is injected subcutaneously, and the patient is free to go about their daily routines throughout the infusion process. When the treatment is finished, the device alerts the user, who simply removes and disposes of it.
SOME OF THE technical specs that make Sorrel unique and effective include:
• An electro-mechanical pumping mechanism that guarantees a reliable and controlled drug delivery, with minimal shear stress applied to the medication (a common challenge with biologics which have larger and more sensitive molecules).
• UV LED technology, which is used for disinfection at point-of-care. This overcomes the challenge of maintaining sterility in prefilled devices to prevent the risk of infection. The use of UV LED is also integral for maintaining the reduced size, energy and costs essential for a discreet and fully disposable wearable device.
• Multiple smart sensors, including air detection, occlusion, cartridge placement, needle positioning and on-body attachment. Combined with a series of internal system checks, this guarantees successful self-administration.
• Full wireless connectivity via both Bluetooth and near-field communication (NFC). This enables patients to share treatment data with their healthcare providers and allows caregivers to monitor patients outside of hospital settings and ensure they are keeping to their therapy routines.
I would imagine we are years, if not decades away from not ever having to visit a hospital, but from where I am sitting, Sorrel is the first step in that direction, and it is a very welcome one. If you think about it, as humans, when we are not well and when we need medical treatment, the last thing we need is to deal with bureaucracy, not to mention being in an environment full of disease. What we need when we are most unwell is to be comfortable, independent and in good spirits. If that is Sorrel’s mission, I for one hope they accomplish it, and soon.