Ingestible Digital Monitoring Pill

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Ingestible Digital Monitoring Pill

Half of all patients don't take medications as prescribed

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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For the first time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved an ingestible pill with an imbedded microchip to record medical information. The pill is actually a small silicon wafer that generates electricity on contact with the patient’s stomach fluids. The wafer transmits a signal to a disposable, battery-powered patch on the patient’s skin and the patch then transmits data to the healthcare provider’s mobile phone.

The information collected can include the patient’s heart rate, the time the pill is taken, the position of the patient’s body and the patient’s body temperature.

Science Fiction = Science Fact

For now, the only approved use of the device in the U.S. is for placebos, allowing the FDA to determine whether the device works as designed and is truly safe. However, approval has already come in Europe and the device’s manufacturer, Proteus Digital Health, hopes to expand the pill’s use monitoring prescription medications, allowing healthcare providers to track patients’ adherence to prescribed regimens as well as recording vital signs.

The new device could be particularly useful in the treatment of drug-resistant diseases like tuberculosis or chronic diseases like diabetes, where medications must be taken for long periods of time. In such cases, the new device could signal the healthcare practitioner to change drugs or dosages or motivate greater patient compliance with current prescriptions. It is well understood that as many as half of all patients do not take medications as prescribed.

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