SmartTab Wins the First Autoimmune Patients' Choice Award

By Sacha Heppell - October 19, 2021

In the United States alone, there are more than 50 million people living with an autoimmune disease (a condition in which one’s immune system attacks healthy tissue). According to the Autoimmune Association 75% are women. Some of the autoimmune diseases include type 1 diabetes, myositis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease.


Autoimmune Patients' Choice Award

The first ever Patients' Choice Award: Health Tech Pitch Competition sponsored by Lilly, brought together the best and the brightest health tech, digital health, diagnostics and medical device startups innovating to disrupt the autoimmune experience. After reviewing countless applications the Autoimmune Association selected eight finalists to make their pitch to a panel of patient judges and autoimmune summit attendees. SmartTab was selected as a finalist and voted the Patients' Choice Award winner by the attendees of the event. 

Sacha Francois Heppell led the pitch and had 3 minutes to share with attendees of the summit the mission of SmartTab to create a patient-centered innovation environment and bring novel ingestible drug delivery systems to market. Following the pitch, Sacha was asked questions by one of the judges, Jen Horonjeff, PhD, CEO of Savvy Cooperative

After each startup pitch, the voting was underway and each attendee had an opportunity to select their favorite health tech company. Lilly Stairs, Founder of Patient Authentic and Vice Chair of the Autoimmune Association Board of Directors cued' the drum roll and announced the first ever Patients' Choice Award going to... SmartTab! Sacha came back on the stage to thank each and every one of the attendees for their vote and conveyed the excitement of the SmartTab team, noting that this award will only accelerate the team's efforts. He requested that people follow SmartTab to stay up to date on the progress. You can watch the full pitch and award announcement below. 



Why SmartTab?

Autoimmune diseases are often treated with immune-suppressing medications, often prescribed a biological therapy administered via IV, pre-filled syringe or auto-injector. The antiquatedness of these administration methods causes stress, pain and anxiety among patients’ which leads to poor adherence. SmartTab is committed to a world in which the barriers to adherence disappear and provide patients' with optimal control of their disease through novel drug delivery systems. 

InjectTab™, an ingestible capsule built for the 21st century to deliver life saving biologic medications through a patient-friendly oral route of administration. A micro-needle capsule with sensors and microprocessor that confirm positioning and delivers an injection into the stomach wall and then harmlessly passes through the GI tract. InjectTab™ is currently in the process of preclinical proof of concept studies.


The SmartTab Story

RobertNiichel (1)SmartTab was founded in 2016 by Robert Niichel, who has an extensive background in research and development of pharmaceutical drug delivery systems. Robert has a history of disruption in the pharmaceutical R&D space.  His prior company, ZumXR brought pharmaceutical types of drug delivery systems to consumer healthcare and sports nutrition. After its success, the attention was focused on combining all of the advancements of wireless technology in the last decade with pharmaceutical drug delivery to create more convenient, advanced delivery methods and open up the potential to deliver active ingredients more effectively into the human body. 

SmartTab completed a preclinical proof of concept study with TargetTab™ that successfully administered active ingredients to the targeted site via wireless signal. The capsules are equipped with onboard sensors providing the ability to integrate with a cloud-based care management system. 

Patient-centered innovation

At the end of the day, patients are the foundation of SmartTab's platform and innovation culture. Their commitment to hosting a patient-centric innovation environment is pertinent to the creation of the platform to create meaningful change for those who need it most. SmartTab is working to accelerate their efforts to understand the patient experience as a foundation for the creation of their connected drug delivery solutions. The patients’ voice, concerns, and needs fuel the innovation, drive the engineering to build this technology. To free the patient from barriers to adherence and improve the lives of every autoimmune patient.

SmartTab is out to discover what patient-centered innovation truly means by taking meaningful action to implement it throughout their company culture and the development of their technology. Investing in the creation of additional focus groups with physicians, patients, and all stakeholders around IBD (GI specialists and gastroenterologists) and other autoimmune diseases. SmartTab is working everyday to bring drug delivery to the 21st century and cause a paradigm shift to patient-centric care. 


Screen Shot 2021-10-15 at 13.48.48 (2)

Patients as Partners

The past year SmartTab has had several notable collaborations with patients as partners through focus groups, blog content and a podcast series. Partnering with patient advocates is an essential way to begin to discover a glimpse into the day to day life of patients and their battle with their condition. Patients are on the frontlines living with an autoimmune condition and patient advocates are the hero's who share their story openly in hopes to inspire others and make a difference for the future of care.  It's important to bring empathy and authenticity to inquire into what life is really like for another and even though you'll never truly know. You can have a deep understanding of the needs that exist and the opportunities to innovate solutions that will truly make a difference. Take a moment to listen to SmartTab's most recent podcasts with extraordinary patient advocates.

Tina Aswani Omprakash of Own Your Crohn's

Listen in to gain insight from Tina Aswani Omprakash, public health advocate, speaker, and world-renowned blogger, into the world of an IBD patient and advocate. Learn how innovation and technology will continue to improve the lives of people living with these diseases, along with the role of patient-centered innovation in healthcare. Tina is a respected public health advocate and has been a Crohn’s patient for almost 15 years. Known globally for her award-winning blog, Own Your Crohn’s, Tina is an avid speaker and advocate for chronic illnesses, disabilities, and life-saving ostomy surgery.


Natalie Hayden of Lights, Camera Crohn's

In this episode we get grounded in real patient experiences and what it's like to actively live with Crohn’s disease. Natalie Hayden shares her extraordinary story of battling Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Living a powerful life beyond those challenges and making a difference for the five million others around the world who battle IBD on a daily basis through her blog "Lights, Camera, Crohn's". Natalie shares her perspective of new technologies coming to healthcare, COVID-19's impact and what it's like being a parent while managing her condition on the day to day. We look at the progress being made in the treatment of IBD today and what the future holds as SmartTab works to innovate for better patient outcomes. Discover what’s possible for the future of IBD treatment and get inspired by Natalie's story.


Hope for the Future

The takeaways from the Autoimmune Summit include the amazing perspective into the patients' world and there is much work to be done to improve outcomes. From the advocacy being done on capital hill to the advocacy being done about the way healthcare is delivered. Each step forward creates a mountain of hope ahead and that mountain has no top. Each company that was a finalist at the Health Tech Pitch Competition presented inspiring solutions that can truly meet the needs of patients, utilizing the latest advancements in technology. It's time to free patients' from todays constraints and create a better future for those living with an autoimmune condition.

This award represents far more than a badge for SmartTab. This award represents the hope for what SmartTab is building today for a better future tomorrow. This is a win for every patient and highlights the importance of SmartTab's potential to transform treatment.

Patients Choice Award




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