Wearable health tech devices are so 2015. The market for wristbands, clip-on sensors, and pendants has just begun to take off, but health tech research and development increasingly focus on invisible technology. Sensors woven into material used to manufacture clothing, virtual healthcare, and smart pills are just three R&D hotbed endeavors. In his CES 2016 coverage, Alfred Poor reported on the use of display technology in pharmaceutical packaging.  More recently we’ve written about developments ingestible sensors to support patient compliance and other smart pill applications.

New Jersey-based Janssen Research & Development recently announced iSTEP (Integrated Smart Trial & Engagement Platform). iSTEP is an initiative to improve patient-centered clinical trials. The platform’s four modular components work as end-to-end solutions for consistent pharmaceutical trials or separately for specific functions. iSTEP’s eTracking component verifies and registers medication kits and kit activities. The eCommunication module provides tailored patient information such as reminders, dosage instruction, and tutorials. eLabels are electronic drug labels that facilitate adaptive trials, making it easier to update protocols and to communicate new instructions to participants. The fourth iSTEP component, eAdherence, includes smart medication blister packs to measure and report patient compliance.

Janssen Research and Development is a Johnson & Johnson entity, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies. The R&D group has run a technical iSTEP pilot. The next step is to incorporate the platform into one clinical trial and then into a variety of trials. Janssen is working with health authorities and ethics bodies on the testing solution’s implications. Other government, private, and university research groups most often pick a single component to explore and develop. Janssen’s deeper pockets, with a clear path to implementation with potential significant bottom-line corporate benefit, enable the group to tackle the multiple components simultaneously. The iSTEP system could lead to drug trials that run more efficiently, produce more reliable results, and at a lower cost. The bottom line result would be better outcomes for patients.