Anser Innovation Seeks Funds to Develop Medication Management Device
Photo courtesy of Ōmcare

Anser Innovation Seeks Funds to Develop Medication Management Device

Developer of PetChatz, a pet-to-human connection device, moves to address a healthcare issue with new product Ōmcare.

The company behind PetChatz, a device which connects pet owners to their fur babies while they’re away from home, has a new healthcare product in the pipeline. Anser Innovation is nearly halfway toward a fundraising target to finish developing its latest creation, Ōmcare, according to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Burnsville-based Anser wants to raise $1.7 million more toward a goal of $3 million, the filing indicates. The new product, Ōmcare, is a home eHealth hub and audiovisual medication management system meant to ensure people take the right pills at the right time.
Ōmcare is Anser’s second subsidiary, following the success of its first, PetChatz—which allows pet owners to video chat and remotely dispense scents and food to their fur babies while away from home.
“We’re focused in on the growth of PetChatz, but in the meantime we started development of the Ōmcare system,” said Lisa Lavin, CEO of Anser Innovation. “It’s the same audio-visual platform we’ve created that allows us to dispense something remotely, and remotely control a device, but we’re reskinning it [to dispense] medication.”
In 2016, when she told Twin Cities Business that just two years after the launch of PetChatz, Anser already had a customer who wanted to use it to interact with her mother in hospice, Lavin essentially foretold the evolution of the use of the PetChatz technology.
With Ōmcare, medication is loaded inside the device, in multi-dose strip pack form, and the system is subsequently locked, Lavin explained. The controller, likely a patient or healthcare provider, can then dispense a particular medication at a given time.
The initial use envisioned for Ōmcare was eldercare, as older patients tend to have several different medicines that are difficult to track. The product will address non-adherence, or improper medication consumption, often due to forgetfulness or confusion, according to Ōmcare. 
In 2009, the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation found that non-adherence to medication resulted in more than 125,000 deaths annually nationwide and added costs between $105 billion to $290 billion.
Ōmcare aims to change that in a way that hasn’t yet been done—particularly by including an element of visual confirmation of medication compliance, with a supplemental benefit of telehealth and social interaction.
While elderly patients were the first consumers considered, Lavin said the product also could help chemotherapy patients, who have multiple medications to manage. Another use that’s touted as the second core focus of Ōmcare is preventing drug addiction.
“When somebody has orthopedic surgery, most often they are given a bottle of opiates for pain killers and are encouraged to take them every four hours,” Lavin said. “There are enough pills in the bottle that they take them every single four hours, whether they really need it or not, and they get addicted.”
With the Ōmcare dispenser system, she said healthcare providers can call a patient, measure their pain level, and if the person doesn’t really need to take medication, they can choose not to distribute the medicine. This eliminates unnecessary consumption and promotes taking medication only “for the right time, when they really need it,” Lavin said.
Anser is partnering with a surgical group and an opiate manufacturer to do a clinical study on the efficacy of using the to help prevent addiction. Lavin said they expect to begin the test early next year.
“If we can try to prevent addiction, hopefully, we’ll have an impact on a big bad problem,” Lavin said. She cited statistics on opiate abuse, including that 40 percent of all drug overdose deaths involve prescription opioids.
Four investors, all from Minnesota, have contributed to the $1.3 million raised to date, with the first sale happening in May 2017. Fundraising proceeds will go to the all-around development of the product, which officially began in the third quarter of 2017. Lavin said the company is preparing to test working prototypes. The business is on track to commercialize the product in the first quarter of 2019, she said.