News Feature | July 8, 2016

Thinfilm Launches Medical Device Communication Platform

By Jof Enriquez,
Follow me on Twitter @jofenriq

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Norwegian printed electronics maker Thinfilm has partnered with an unidentified Fortune 500 pharmaceutical firm to build a near-field communication (NFC) platform for medical devices to help patients adhere to treatment regimens and connect with healthcare providers.

Thinfilm develops and manufactures NFC smart tags embedded in smartphones, consumer goods, and medical and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The company's OpenSense tags connect devices and products to the internet for tracking purposes, to verify authenticity, and to pass or process data. Thinfilm says its NFC technology will make devices "smart" in order to improve patient adherence and enhance communication between patients and their caregivers.

“Lack of compliance among patients is a critical issue globally, and industry leaders are looking for effective solutions,” said Davor Sutija, Thinfilm’s CEO, in a press release. “Our partnership with one of the world’s leading pharma companies is focused on delivering such a solution by making medical devices smart. We are very excited about the role NFC OpenSense can play in helping doctors and other caregivers improve patient outcomes.”

While NFC as a communication standard is increasingly adopted for use in financial transactions and manufacturing purposes, its healthcare applications have been comparatively limited.  However, since NFC-enabled smartphones started to appear, NFC’s medical applications are slowly rising in number.

In a recent interview with Seeking Alpha, Sutija said Thinfilm's NFC tags will be compatible with almost two billion smartphones by 2020, actively taking part in the IoT revolution. Thinfilm intends to leverage this reach to interconnect myriad medical devices, in addition to applications in pharmaceuticals and consumer goods.

Thinfilm is no stranger to chronic disease management and patient adherence. The company developed and supplies NFC OpenSense tags to Swiss-based diabetes tech provider YpsoMate for the latter's Smart Medical Injection device, which helps the customer track dosage requirements, provides injection and refill reminders, and relays information to doctors.

Other companies are creating wearable devices that utilize NFC technology to manage diabetes and other chronic conditions.

For instance, Mayo Clinic and partners Gentag, NovioSense, and Fraunhofer IMS are trying to replace traditional glucometers with NFC-enabled smartphones as a pain-free, low-cost solution to combating type 2 diabetes. Under the joint venture, Gentag's skin patches and NovioSense's eye-worn sensor both will have the ability to read blood glucose levels and send the data directly to a smartphone via NFC signals.