Health IT

Virtual nurse that dispenses single doses of medication could boost adherence and prevent errors (video)

EMMA remote medication mgmtAs companies try to solve the complex puzzle of getting patients to do a better job of taking their medication in the right amounts or alerting healthcare professionals when there’s a problem, one company has set out to do both. This week, the telehealth business raised $1.6 million for its remote medication management device. It administers single doses of medication to patients and transmits adherence data to physicians and pharmacists.

It is designed for patients with a history of non adherence that are costing the healthcare system the most money.

INRange Systems’ Electronic Medication Management System, or EMMA, is modeled after the Veterans Administration dispensing units for narcotics, anti-depressants, sleeping pills and other controlled substances. The remote medication management device was developed by cardiologist Dr. Mary Anne Papp who served 17 years as a navy medical officer and physician for the Veterans Administration.

Blister cards of medication are fed into EMMA like a DVD into a disc player. The device, which has 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is controlled remotely by a pharmacist who programs the computer to dispense single doses of different medications at different times. It also collects data on adherence and transmits that back to physicians and pharmacists.


Although it was initially developed to manage Warfarin dosage, EMMA later evolved into a device that can manage almost all oral medications. One of EMMA’s core markets is the military to help solve the alarming problem of medication errors and drug overdoses for medication prescribed to returning veterans with traumatic brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorders from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Altoona, Pennsylvania-based company began to commercialize EMMA in 2009, with an eye to helping seniors who may be taking several different types of medication stay at home longer.  The baby boomer population is reaching retirement age and a recent JAMA report showed that the health of its members is worse then their parents’ generation with chronic conditions like obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure that have become so common in this country.


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