In recent years, specialty pharmaceuticals and other biotech products, aimed at treating the increasing occurrence of chronic
diseases, such as diabetes, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, have been on the rise. At the same time, there’s been an
increased focus on self-care at home, with patients administering their own treatments, particularly injectable and inhalable
drugs. Many of these self-administered drugs are supplied in connected drug-delivery devices, which make it possible to create a
valuable link between the patient and the medication, and between the healthcare provider and the patient.
Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, a short-range wireless technology, can be added to a mechanical device to create
secure, easy-to-use patient experiences. If, for example, the device is purely mechanical, then passive or connected NFC tags,
which can harvest energy from the NFC field generated by the reader (e.g., a smartphone), can be used to add connectivity to the
device without requiring other electronic components or a battery. If, on the other hand, the device is already equipped with
electronics and a power source, then an NFC reader frontend or NFC controller can be added to the design.
Depending on the use case, patients may have to install a mobile app, or they may be able to use existing internet connectivity
– by tapping their smartphone to the device – to launch a website that provides digital guidance. With a single tap, patients
can do things like check product authenticity, receive step-by-step application guidance or keep a digital regime diary based
on automated time stamps. A mobile app can perform simple data-processing tasks to display real-time information to the patient,
or data can be sent to the cloud for more complex processing and analysis.
Smartphone-based patient support
NFC can be used to automate communication between a re-usable drug-delivery device and a disposable drug container, such as a
cartridge or pre-filled syringe. In this case, the device is equipped with an NFC reader that communicates directly with a
passive NFC tag in or on the container. The NFC communication can be used to assure the originality of the consumable, to check
that the drug is within its expiration date, to confirm the type of drug and its batch number, or to read out parameters that
might require an adjustment of device settings. Moreover, the NFC reader can register dosage events, thereby preventing
consumable reuse. A delivery device can even provide sensor-based feedback to ensure medications are being handled and dosed
correctly in real time.
Connectivity and Patient Adherence
Studies from the World Health Organization (WHO) and others reveal that 50% of patients with chronic diseases are non-adherent
in treatments, as they miss doses, take the wrong dose or stop treatment altogether. This is often caused by a drug’s negative
side effects, dose frequency, over-/under-dosing or usability of the delivery device. With connected devices, patients can
better manage their condition while receiving immediate feedback to guide them through administration. They can use automated
features to effortlessly capture key information such as injection dose, date and time. Also, notifications can help remind
patients when their next dose is due and/or send an alert when doses are missed. Collected data can also be uploaded to a
cloud-hosted service, for more complex data processing, and can be further shared with existing healthcare systems to keep
patients’ clinicians informed.
Security and Patient Reassurance
It’s an unfortunate fact that counterfeit, adulterated, off-label and diverted products have become more and more widespread, to
the point that the WHO describes counterfeits as “one of the urgent healthcare challenges of the decade.”
To reassure patients who might be concerned about the security of their drug-delivery combination system, and to prevent use of
wrong or fake products, manufacturers can add authentication and authorization processes.
Join us at MEDICA 2023. To discover how our connectivity and security solutions can help advance medical IoT applications,
Authentication verifies that a device or its medication is genuine, securing access to an application or its data. While identification validates serial numbers using online allowlists, NFC-based authentication performs enhanced checks based on an item’s NFC tag data and credentials, using secure cryptographic functions. Authorization can further check attributes of each tag, such as ensuring rightful access of users to their data or delivery system.
NXP Smart Technology Solutions
NXP offers well-matched Reader and Tag IC solutions to help customers design advanced, integrated systems that benefit from
enhanced functionality, interoperability and performance.
Possible device-consumable system enabled by NFC
Our NFC authentication tags come with standard-based AES-128 cryptography. Popular tags are
NTAG 424 DNA and
NTAG 22x DNA (ISO 14443/Type 2 or 4 Tag) as
well as ICODE DNA
(ISO 15693/Type 5 Tag), supporting different operating distances and form-factor dimensions. Some tags support web-based dynamic
NFC message authentication upon every NFC phone readout to prevent mass cloning. Some tags support a mutual authentication
mechanism, ensuring only an authenticated reader can access sensitive tag data, protecting it against unauthorized access. Some
tags come with enhanced status-sensing capability, to measure such things as opening indication, fill level or if a mechanical
function is complete – even without a battery.
Our NTAG 5
(ISO 15693/T5T) connected NFC tags are versatile devices for use in or on a system with an electrical system interface to
connect to an external sensor or microcontroller. In medical devices, our connected tags can help make sure a drug is within the
right temperature window, or can control pressure in an inhalation device. They also support advanced memory-data protection
with access rights.
All these NFC tags are supported by NXP’s latest single-chip NFC microcontroller
PN7642, which offers the highest integration level
and the smallest footprint for adding NFC reader functionality, processing and cryptographic security, even in small
The Future of Connectivity in Healthcare
Connectivity will continue to play an important role in maximizing the quality of healthcare for patients, especially those with
chronic conditions. NXP has become a key technology provider in the field of connected drug delivery devices, leveraging
high-quality, reliable products and an extensive partner network.