Convenience at Your Fingertips: Porticos Helps Develop Automated Medication Dispenser

We’ve all been there: worried that a loved one isn’t taking his medications or, perhaps worse, is taking medication improperly. It can lead to hospital stays, the inability to live independently, and lots of stress on patients and loved ones.

Spencer Healthcare Solutions, an RTP-based company, has developed a hardware and software platform to address this medical challenge.

The “Spencer” is a smart, connected health hub that dispenses the right pills at the right time. Since patients and pharmacists don’t have to sort or count pills with Spencer, the danger of human error is drastically reduced. Plus, Spencer can send reminder alerts and even connect patients to Spencer-trained pharmacists for questions and advice.

So patients and their loved ones can feel confident that medications are taken properly and at the correct time. If you’ve ever worried about a loved one on multiple medications, you know peace of mind is life changing!

Porticos Design Challenge: Balancing Precision and Ease

One of the fundamental pieces of the platform solution is to provide the medicine to the patient in a format that the Spencer device can properly dispense. For the Spencer that means a cartridge containing prepackaged foils of medicine. To meet this need, Spencer Healthcare Solutions engaged Porticos to develop the “Spooler”. The Spooler allows the pharmacist to efficiently and reliably package the patient-specific foils into a cartridge that can then be put into the Spencer unit for dispensing by the patient.

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Creating a product with such a high-stakes role in patient health presented several challenges. First, the Porticos design team needed the Spooler to be agile and dependable: small enough to fit on a countertop, fast enough to produce a medication pack every 30 seconds, and reliable enough to be a life-or-death part of a healthcare plan. It also needed ethernet capability and an easy-to-navigate touch screen, so even the least tech-savvy could use it with ease.

As the name suggests, the Spoolers’ main function is to wind and unwind the foil packets of medication to fill the cartridge. One of the obstacles to performing that function while meeting the time requirements is for the medication packs to jam or be torn by the mechanisms during that process. To overcome this obstacle, Porticos engineers ideated a variety of unique mechanisms and performed design of experiments to prove out the concepts. As a result, Porticos was able to create a Spooler that winds and unwinds smoothly every time – a reliable solution for a critical part of patient care.

One of the key steps that Porticos advised all customers to consider as part of the design process is to prototype the design to allow functional evaluation before proceeding to production manufacture. Case in point was an obstacle that was identified during initial prototype functional trails; specifically engagement and disengagement of the Spooler “arm”. The arm interfaces with a hub in the cartridge to perform the winding function. Originally, Porticos designed a traditional latching mechanism to secure the arm in place, but the team soon realized that optimizing (1) the forces necessary to ensure good engagement with the cartridge hub and (2) the need for the pharmacists to easily disengage the arm was problematic. To solve this challenge Porticos engineers devised a unique magnetic solution that not only meets the functionality requirements but exceeds the life cycle requirements as well.

As further testament to Porticos innovative contribution to the Spooler and Spencer products, Porticos engineers were named inventor on multiple patents.

“Porticos engineers did an excellent job of developing the spooler unit,” said Jeremy Bridges, Hardware Manager with Spencer Healthcare Solutions. “They worked very well with our team and were very responsive to our needs. We were especially impressed with some of the innovative solutions that they develop and were able to integrate into the product.”

Porticos Production Challenge: Balancing Cost and Medical Standards

Once the Spooler was designed, Spencer Healthcare Solutions needed a cost competitive production plan that could also meet the high-quality standards for medical equipment. Porticos Asia, the production services arm of Porticos US, was able to identify the perfect production spot for a custom build—one that could match quality and cost efficiency with an aggressive delivery schedule. They were able to ship the first batch of Spoolers just twelve weeks after the start of production—all the while analyzing the manufacturing flow for further cost reduction in future production runs.

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Meeting The Challenge: Another Product Design Partnership

Through both the development and production stages, Porticos US and Porticos Asia were proud to support Spencer Healthcare Solutions.

“We consider Porticos to be a valuable partner in reaching our company goals,” said Ben Wetzel, Finance Manager at Spencer Healthcare Solutions. “They have provided excellent engineering and manufacturing support. Furthermore they have remained flexible throughout our engagement to meet our changing needs.”

For more information on the product, visit www.helloimspencer.com.

For more examples of how Porticos is Product Design for the Way We’re Designed, visit porticos.net.

Porticos Sponsors American Medical Device Summit

Picture1Porticos is pleased to announce our sponsorship of the American Medical Device Summit, held in Chicago on September 21 & 22. The AMD Summit provides a unique opportunity for attendees to explore the challenges and opportunities in medical product development through case studies and discussions with industry leaders. In addition to participating in the discussion groups, Porticos will have an exhibit where attendees are encouraged to come by and learn more about the company.

“When Todd Rosler from Generis contacted me and informed me that Porticos was one of the companies requested to attend the AMD Summit by some of the delegates, I was honored,” explains Porticos President Greg Patterson. “The AMD Summit provides a great forum for sharing ideas and communicating our message of designing small, hand-held or patient worn Class I or Class II devices and sensors to an interested audience.”

The AMD Summit will be the second such conference sponsored by Porticos this year. In June, Porticos co-sponsored the Strategic Medical Device New Product Development conference in Alexandria Virginia. Participating in these events is consistent with Porticos’ strategy to grow its reputation as a premier product design and engineering services company for the medical market.

To learn more about the summit and register to attend go to www.amdsummit.com.

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Digital Medication Dispensing—An Easy Pill to Swallow

Deadly medication mixups threaten patients and those involved in their care. Drug interactions, lawsuits, and even death can result from human error or lack of communication. Suppose a prescription is hard to read, or a patient forgets to take a pill?

PharmMate™, Porticos’s latest engineering challenge, takes the uncertainty out of prescription management by dispensing medicines as scheduled—no need to rely on a patient’s failing memory or coordination between family members. The brainchild of the medication-focused PharmRight Corporation, PharmMate™ sorts, counts, and dispenses dosages according to the doctor’s orders.

Need a reminder? The device syncs with cloud-based applications and reports, records, and reminds patients and health care teams about medication schedules. At the office or on the go, caregivers can ensure patients get the right meds at the right time, simplifying medication delivery and tracking in-home patient compliance.

Streamlined Design Means Streamlined Function

A refined, efficient design makes the appliance user-friendly and reduces cost. Medical Team Leader Ken Hogue explains how the team brainstormed many solutions then prototyped the highest ranked idea. “After several incremental improvements we arrived at the final design. As often happens in innovation, the final design is a hybrid taking the best elements of several ideas.”

Complex Problems, Simplified

Pharmaceuticals come in dozens of shapes and sizes, a significant challenge for Porticos engineers. Designing a delivery system to accommodate all pill configurations demanded creative collaboration, and engineers had to anticipate the needs of patients, pharmacists, medical professionals, and family members. The design team considered multiple contingencies, ensuring that the end product offers reliable dispensing of the whole range of pill sizes and shapes.

Bill Park, President and CEO of PharmRight Corporation, is confident that “Our new home medication dispenser design will greatly simplify setup for caregivers, enable direct loading by pharmacy service providers using RFID technology, and make it easy for patients to take their medications as prescribed.”

Working Prototype Undergoes Testing

Porticos demonstrated a working prototype of the PharmMate™ and PharmRight will conduct internal testing on the complete system in August 2014. A 50-unit usability test is scheduled for the fourth quarter 2014.

 

About Porticos— Porticos, Inc. is a mechanical engineering and product development company located in Research Triangle Park, NC. Established in 2003, Porticos continues to produce innovative and effective solutions for its clients and the markets they serve. Porticos, Inc. provides mechanical design, analysis, research and development services to clients including Dell, Motorola, Raytheon, and many others. For more information on how Porticos does “product design for the way we’re designed,” please visit www.porticos.net.

New Introduction to Porticos presentation shares how Porticos does product design for the way we’re designed

Porticos Executive Summary Presentation
Introduction to Porticos presentation

Porticos prides itself on being able to provide innovative solutions to our customer’s needs. Want to learn how we do it and hear more about our latest projects? Check out our new Introduction to Porticos presentation, available for viewing or for downloading from our Executive Summary page. Continue reading “New Introduction to Porticos presentation shares how Porticos does product design for the way we’re designed”

Prosthetic Cooling Liner earns Gold Stevie at 2013 American Business Awards

Gold_Stevie_Award_Winner

Porticos ingenuity was recently recognized at The 2013 Stevie Awards! The Prosthetic Cooling Liner, developed in partnership with SCRA Applied R&D, received the coveted Gold Stevie in the category of Tech Innovation of the Year. Since 2002, the top-tier Gold Stevie Award has been conferred for achievement in business to organizations and individuals in more than 60 nations.

Learn more about the award-winning Prosthetic Cooling Liner from our recent press release, “Porticos Makes Advancements in Amputee Heat Issues.”

The Stevie Awards were created to generate public recognition for positive contributions of organizations and business people worldwide. The American Business Awards are judged each year by more than 200 executives across the nation. Porticos and SCRA Applied R&D were honored by this recognition at the 11th annual American Business Awards banquet, which was held on Monday, September 16, at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco, California. SCRA Applied R&D accepted this award on behalf of the partnership innovation project. To learn more about the American Business Awards, view the Stevie Awards website at http://www.stevieawards.com/aba/. The full program is available at http://www.stevieawards.com/uploads/file/ABA13_Program_September.pdf.

Gold_Stevie_Image_13percentThe name Stevie is taken from the name Stephen, which is derived from the Greek for “crowned.” The crystal pyramid held aloft by Stevie represents the hierarchy of human needs, a system often represented as a pyramid that was developed in the 1960s by psychologist Abraham Maslow, who observed that after their basic needs are met, human beings seek the esteem of their peers.

 

About Porticos — Porticos, Inc. is a mechanical engineering and product development company located in Research Triangle Park, NC.  Established in 2003, Porticos continues to produce innovative and effective solutions for its clients and the markets they serve.  Porticos, Inc. provides mechanical design, analysis, research and development services to clients including Dell, Motorola, Raytheon, and many others.  For more information on how Porticos “turns good ideas into great products,” please visit https://www.porticos.net/

About SCRA Applied R&DSCRA Applied R&D is an applied research corporation with over 30 years of experience delivering technology solutions with high returns on investment to federal and corporate clients. To fulfill our mission, SCRA Applied R&D has three sectors: Our Technology Ventures sector helps early-stage companies to commercialize innovations and create jobs, our Applied R&D sector manages over 100 national and international programs worth over $2 billion in contract value and our R&D Facilities sector builds and manages research facilities that include wet labs, secure rooms for sensitive work and advanced high-tech manufacturing shops. Multiple economic output studies show SCRA Applied R&D’s cumulative impact on South Carolina’s economy to be over $14 billion, and that the company has helped create approximately 15,000 technology-related jobs in SC, with wages averaging between $55,000 and $77,000. http://www.SCRA Applied R&D.org/

Mechanical Engineering and Design Firm Redesigns… Itself.

Ten years ago, a small group of accomplished mechanical engineers at Sony Ericsson were drawn together by a passion for leading-edge product development. The freethinking engineers shared a vision to create a product development and design environment where creativity and innovation could prosper. Continue reading “Mechanical Engineering and Design Firm Redesigns… Itself.”

Porticos Makes Advancements in Amputee Heat Issues

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – It has been well documented that the insulating environment created by the socket of the prosthetic results in an increase in skin temperature in that region. One Department of Veteran Affairs commissioned study found that mean skin temperature of the residual limb of a patient with a transtibial amputation can increase by 0.8˚C just from donning the prosthetics and resting in the seated position for 15 minutes. After 10 minutes of walking the increase can exceed 1.7˚C. It is easy to envision that the temperature can increase substantially more as amputees are more active. These elevated skin temperatures can contribute to major skin irritation, dangerous blistering and subsequently a reduced quality of life.

Traditional water cooled solutions cannot be successfully implemented to address the heat buildup issue for several reasons. The tubing size required to allow water to be pumped at acceptable pressure levels exceeds the diameter that can be comfortably worn by the amputee. Furthermore the weight associated with water, ice, pump and battery source makes the solution impractical. Air cooled solutions are also impractical. Venting air within the liner would compromise the vacuum and make it impossible to secure the prosthetic limb satisfactorily. As a result, while major advances have occurred in the design, manufacture and performance of prosthetic limbs over the last two or three decades, very little has been done to address the heat buildup issues in the residual limb. Until now…

Porticos, Inc. has teamed up with the South Carolina based Advanced Technology International (ATI) dba SCRA Applied R&D to develop a cooling solution based on the Porticool liquid CO2 technology invented by Porticos. The prototype generated excitement and interest at the Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists where it was unveiled last December. According to Christopher Norfolk, PhD, SCRA R&D program manager, “We’ve found that the system can be effective, comfortable for patients, and that liner materials are not an impermeable barrier to the cooling effect based on this proof of concept prototype”.

Initial testing conducted by Georgia Institute of Technology Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics program co-director and prosthetics coordinator Rob Kistenberg, MPH, CP, FAAOP has been very promising. “We are excited about this concept”, says Mr. Kistenberg. “Initial patient tests demonstrated that for mild exercise the cooling device eliminated almost 90% of the total temperature rise”. Testing continues to characterize the optimal cooling rates for the system and how the system interacts with various prosthetic suspension options.

Adapting the Porticool technology required Porticos engineers to ideate new solutions to reduce the cooling flow to a rate more compatible with the level of cooling required by the amputee cooling application. Extensive testing was conducted in the Porticos lab to characterize the solutions and confirm cooling targets and flow rates were being met. Due to the limitations in space, the engineers designed a new manifold with an integrated custom back pressure regulator along with a completely new custom enclosure. “It is exciting to have the opportunity to work on a project that can improve people’s lives”, reflects Porticos president Greg Patterson, “and it gives the team a sense of pride to realize that technology developed by Porticos will be an instrumental part in the success of the project”.

While encouraged by the progress to date everyone on the project acknowledges that there is still work to be done before the product can be brought to the market. The vision for the commercialized product is a much more integrated solution that resolves the heat issues currently experienced by amputees without impacting freedom of motion.

About Porticos — Porticos, Inc. is a mechanical engineering and product design development company located in Research Triangle Park, NC. Established in 2003, Porticos continues to produce innovative and effective solutions for its clients and the markets they serve. Porticos, Inc. provides mechanical design, analysis, research and development services to clients including Dell, Motorola, Raytheon, and many others. For more information on how Porticos “turns good ideas into great products,” please visit www.porticos.net

About SCRA — SCRA is an applied research corporation with over 30 years of experience delivering technology solutions with high returns on investment to federal and corporate clients. To fulfill our mission, SCRA has three sectors: Our Technology Ventures sector helps early-stage companies to commercialize innovations and create jobs, our Applied R&D sector manages over 100 national and international programs worth over $2 billion in contract value and our R&D Facilities sector builds and manages research facilities that include wet labs, secure rooms for sensitive work and advanced high-tech manufacturing shops. Multiple economic output studies show SCRA’s cumulative impact on South Carolina’s economy to be over $14 billion, and that the company has helped create approximately 15,000 technology-related jobs in SC, with wages averaging between $55,000 and $77,000.
www.scra.org

Porticos Delivers Critical Support for Animal Diagnostic Device

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – Recently Porticos engineers were successful in providing the mechanical design and a fully functional prototype of a device that is anticipated to save the dairy industry billions of dollars annually which is lost due to mastitis. What is mastitis and how did Porticos get involved?

Referring to the Advanced Animal Diagnostics website, mastitis is a mammary gland infection in cows that, in severe cases, requires immediate antibiotic treatment and removal of the cow from milk production. Even less severe infection (non-symptomatic stage) results in a reduction in the pounds of milk produced during each lactation cycle. Furthermore once a cow is diagnosed with mastitis, any milk from that cow or that has been in contact with that milk must be discarded. The key to controlling both categories of mastitis is accurate and sensitive detection within a critical period after calving and before salable milk begins.

Advanced Animal Diagnostics (AAD) recognized the need for a device that could identify if a cow suffered from the illness before the tainted milk was harvested; contaminating the entire lot and resulting in its destruction. They developed a proprietary system allowing cell analysis in a dry format along with software that optimizes and analyzes individual cells. This breakthrough allows detection of mastitis to be made on the farm, real time, rather than in a lab days later. After developing the algorithm, what AAD needed was a mechanical device that could automate this precise test while surviving in the harsh environmental conditions typical of a working farm. That is where Porticos got involved. “Designing a cost effective system with the precision typically seen only on lab instruments was a challenge in itself, but making it a portable yet rugged device was one of our biggest challenges” notes Jasper Pollard, the lead designer for the AAD project at Porticos.

The first prototype, affectionately known as “Bessie”, was developed by Porticos engineers working with the hardware and software teams at AAD. Although the initial unit was only intended to be capable of demonstrating the technology in the lab, it was so successful that it was able to be unveiled recently at a trade show and for the board of directors. According to David Calderwood, Vice President of Engineering and Manufacturing at AAD, “Porticos hit it out of the park with the design of this product. The board applauded when the demonstration unit finished running. I can honestly say I have never been in a board meeting where the members applauded.” The unit is currently being testing in controlled field applications while design refinements continue in support of a second round of fully field capable units.

About Porticos – Porticos, Inc. is a mechanical engineering and product development company located in Research Triangle Park, NC. Established in 2003, Porticos continues to produce innovative and effective solutions for its clients and the markets they serve. Porticos, Inc. provides mechanical design, analysis, research and development services to clients including Dell, Motorola, Raytheon, and many others. For more information on how Porticos “turns good ideas into great products,” please visit www.porticos.net.

About Advanced Animal Diagnostics – Started in 2001, Advanced Animal Diagnostics vision is to bring the power of rapid diagnostics on farm to benefit the under-served animal agricultural market. By providing vets and producers with valuable new information to monitor animals’ health without waiting days for results, AAD can improve profits for the industry and protect animal health and welfare while enhancing consumer confidence in the food source. Learn more at www.advancedanimaldiagnostics.com.

Porticool Vest Unveiled at ASSE 2011

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC — The Porticool II, one of our most innovative product designs,  was unveiled this week at the American Society of Safety Engineers 2011 conference held at the McCormick Center in Chicago Illinois. At under 800 grams (1.8 lbs) the Porticool II is the “World’s lightest untethered active cooling garment;” making it ideally suited for demanding applications where phase change, water cooled or portable heat pump solutions are not a viable option. Examples include HAZMAT, fire fighters, industrial (nuclear, welding, etc.) and military applications.

The Advantages of Porticool

One advantage to the Porticool II system is that it is modular; providing complete flexibility to the customer allowing optimization between:

  • cooling time
  • cooling rate
  • weight
  • and system cost

to meet their specific need.

The secret to the Porticool II is its patented two-phase liquid CO2 approach.

“By using readily available canisters of liquid CO2, a non-flammable, non-carcinogenic gas, the work and subsequent waste heat typical of portable heat pump systems is removed from the enclosed environment; allowing for a much lighter and more efficient system then others currently on the market,” according to Porticos president Greg Patterson.

The advantage compared to phase change solutions are several fold. Because it is an active system, the Porticool II can be turned on or off as needed by the user; eliminating the immediate “cold shock” of the phase change and allowing the system to sit dormant until it is needed.

The modular approach results in a garment that is extremely light (330 grams or 0.73 lbs), thin (1/8” max at the tubing) and flexible. No electrical or moving mechanical components allow for cooling in an intrinsically safe environment. Quick disconnects to the tank line allow for the garment, sewn of FR rated self-wicking cotton based material, to be worn comfortably even when cooling is not needed.

Independent Testing At The University of Alabama

Independent testing conducted at the University of Alabama and published in the Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health confirmed the superior performance of the Porticool II; extending the average work duration by 32% as compared to standard heat stress prevention methods.

According to the report, while other cooling solutions (ice vests, cooled air vests and liquid circulated garments) tested have shown favorable responses, none provide the flexibility and mobility afforded by the Porticool II. Nor could they compete with the light weight and thin garment size that the Porticool II has achieved.

“When we were first contacted by Porticos and made aware of the Porticool II technology we were intrigued by the potential” claims Tony Blackburn, VP of Sales and Marketing at Cool Shirt. “But after evaluating the prototypes along with some of our key customers we immediately realized that this technology could be a game changer in the industry and provide a great compliment to our existing systems.”

As a result, Cool Shirt entered into a licensing agreement with Porticool for the technology and trademarks. Working with Porticos, a product design and engineering services company that originally conceived and developed the technology, Cool Shirt is targeting November of this year to have production units available.

About Porticos — Porticos, Inc. is a mechanical engineering and product development company located in Research Triangle Park, NC.  Established in 2003, Porticos continues to produce innovative and effective solutions for its clients and the markets they serve.  Porticos, Inc. provides mechanical design, analysis, research and development services to clients including Dell, Motorola, Raytheon, and many others.  For more information on how Porticos “turns good ideas into great products,” please visit www.porticos.net

About Cool Shirt — Since 1987, Shafer Enterprises has grown exponentially to become the world leader in personal cooling systems for surgeons, racecar drivers, football players, fire/emergency services/hazmat, military and industrial workers. Using NASA study guidelines, Cool Shirt® active cooling systems help people manage body heat in extreme environments using circulating temperature-controlled liquids.
The employee / owners of Shafer Enterprises, LLC have over 70 years combined experience in the medical field, holding 24 different patents. The company operates from two facilities: a 65,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Loudon, Tennessee and a 12,000 square-foot distribution center in Stockbridge, Georgia.  For more information visit our website at www.coolshirt.net, email sales@coolshirt.net, or call 800-345-3176.