The CoolComply team won a $100,000 award last fall as a Vodaphone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project, as well as a $50,000 grant from the Harvard Catalyst. The awards will see the project through initial development and testing.
The idea originated with Kristian Olson and Aya Caldwell, physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who told Gmez-Mrquez about the pressing need to keep TB medicines cool and to verify patient compliance with the dosage regime.
At present, since many of the patients entering treatment lack access to refrigerators, they are instead provided with coolers requiring daily deliveries of ice; their compliance with the dosage regime is checked regularly by visiting health workers. Those constraints severely limit the number of patients who can be treated, Gmez-Mrquez says. The daily ice deliveries cost $600 a year about double the cost of the CoolComply system and "ice doesn't send you a message" to show that medicine has been taken, he says.
Since last September, three prototype devices have undergone field testing in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; this summer the D-Lab team hopes to deploy at least 10 more there for further testing. Ultimately, the team hopes the devices can be produced locally and distributed by a small for-profit company set up for this purpose, fostering both better health and the creation of local jobs.
The wireless reporting system in the CoolComply device "solves the problem of having to visit the patient every day," Gmez-Mrquez says. But getting to that point wasn't easy: The first prototypes built last summer by the team which also includes D-Lab instructors Anna Young and Amit Ghandi worked per
|Contact: Caroline McCall|
Massachusetts Institute of Technology