How We Built Gocap, Facilitating Data-Driven Care for Injectable Medicine

Man with Gocap at breakfast

Common Sensing succeeded in bringing a novel smart hardware device from concept to market in a difficult space.

Common Sensing is the company that reworked home treatment of chronic disease. We designed and manufactured connected health technology to help people with chronic disease improve their care. Diabetes is the most expensive chronic disease in the United States, but success with managing diabetes doesn’t happen in the clinic — it happens at home.

Gocap succeeded where other products fell short because of our Human-Centered Design process. We overcame significant regulatory and adoption hurdles because we we worked collaboratively with hundreds of Gocap users to discover and solve for their needs and pain points, forging Gocap into a lifestyle experience that users love and empowers them to take control of their own health.

Common Sensing logo

Common Sensing, Inc.

Connected health technology
$13.9M total funding
Acquired by Bigfoot Biomedical

common-sensing.com

Crunchbase

We created Gocap, a smart cap for injection pens that acts as a “Fitbit for Insulin”.

Over $200B of direct medical costs in the United States are attributed to diabetes. More than half of people aren’t meeting their goals in treating diabetes. For comparison, the entire consumer electronics industry in the United States is also around $200B. (What if half of people in the US had the same problem with all consumer electronics they purchased?)

founders

I met Rich and Jamie after working on a service design initiative at IDEO related to insulin adherence. We created Gocap, a smart cap for insulin pens that measures each dose without interfering with the patient's use flow, logs the dose data via Bluetooth the the companion iOS or Android app, and shares the data with clinicians in real time. Gocap monitors and supports people between doctor visits, and wraps them in an active support network for success with their treatment.

Getting the hardware right

Compared to software, there aren't many chances to iterate when designing a novel IoT product. While early prototypes were 3D printed on demand, a production ABS mold might cost $80K to produce, so cost efficiencies only come with scale.

Infrared fluid measuring

Gocap uses an array of infrared LEDs and a corresponding array of sensors that sit on either side of the injector pen cavity.

Construction

Gocap consists of an inner and outer plastic shell, a flexible printed circuit board, and a lens cover above the LCD display.

I was particularly interested in the percieved differences in objects we have to use and objects we want to use. Many objects that meet health needs are percieved as scary, unappealing, or unworthy of public display. Not so eyeglasses; They're an article of fashion, even though they serve a medical purpose — correcting vision. What's the delta between eyeglasses and a hearing aid? By placing Gocap's industrial design and user experience solidly within the design language of consumer wearables and other lifestyle products, we created a tool that people actually wanted to incorporate into their daily routine, and develop positive relationships with.

Co-designed by Gocap users

We conducted hundreds of one-on-one interviews, simulated use studies, and usability sessions, recorded in terabytes of GoPro footage.

Do you want to be automatically reminded when it's time to take your medication, or warned if you're about to do something unsafe? How about if you don't own a mobile device? Questions like these led to quick prototypes that ended up in the validated version of Gocap, which can differentiate between different types of medication and let a clinician or caretaker know if there's a problem.

By inviting users to share their needs and ideas with us, we kept them involved at every stage of creating Gocap. It’s how we made Human-Centered Design a core part of our process. It’s also a requirement for demonstrating a medical device is safe and effective to use, achieving a successful FDA 510(k) submission — an important milestone to commercializing a device used for managing health.

Gocap App featured design innovations that threw conventional UI out the window.

Working with a diverse user population uncovered needs that are often ignored. Over a third of prospective users had never owned a smartphone before, and were using one for the first time in order to get the most out of their Gocap experience.

These users weren't familiar with the digital design paradigms and semiotics we've become accustomed to over decades, like gestural interaction and basic iconography. Typical design strategies for affordance wouldn't work here.

The Gocap App for iOS and Android needed a novel approach to interaction design, one based on a new set of core principles:

App design principles

  1. No navigational UI.
    Menu drawers and tabs block key information from being accessed.
  2. One screen, one action.
    The app simply shows you what you need to see at the appropriate time.
  3. Zero reliance on iconography.
    All labels and buttons are text.
  4. Use color to create a sense of category and place.
    Core categories like medicine types, glucose, and alerts are color-coded consistently.

Gocap App is a catalyst for behavior change, with adaptive support and 12 months of education content.

Clinical outcomes

Through a groundbreaking connected health study in partnership with the Joslin Diabetes Center, we demonstrated that using Gocap creates positive outcomes for users, and uncovered never-before-seen behavioral data — including widespread insulin use issues — that informs new clinical strategies in diabetes treatment.

Medha N. Munshi, Christine Slyne, Tara MaNeil, Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, et al. Nonadherence to Insulin Therapy Detected by Bluetooth-Enabled Pen Cap Is Associated With Poor Glycemic Control.

Toschi E, MD, Carl S, Greenberg J, BS, Greaves T, BS, Atakov-Castillo A, BA, Slyne C, BA, Munshi M, MD. Use of Gocap to evaluate appropriateness bolus insulin dosing to achieve target glucose levels in patients on basal bolus regimen.

Gocap serves more than 7 million patients whose data was previously invisible to their clinicians and themselves.

After demonstrating Gocap's safety, efficacy, and usability, We partnered with connected glucose meters and injectable pens to commercialize Gocap as a component of bundled solutions, fully "closing the loop" for clinicians wanting to inform their care strategies and patients wanting better insight and support in their treatment.

Gocap was also expanded beyond insulin to other high-risk injectable medicines, like hormone and fertility support.

Gocap with OLED display

As Gocap expanded to multiple types of treatment, we updated the display to accommodate a variety of information, while keeping unit costs low.

In 2021, Common Sensing was acquired by Bigfoot Biomedical, and Gocap's intellectual property became part of Bigfoot's packaged solution for diabetes care.