Sensors You Swallow

by Kara Mitman | Jul 14, 2015

I recently attended the NexGen Disruptive Innovations in Healthcare event held in San Francisco, CA and was introduced to an innovative and fascinating company, Proteus Digital Health.

Proteus is a health technology company creating a new category of products, services, and data systems that are aimed at improving the effectiveness of current pharmaceutical treatments. It does so by incorporating a tiny sensor in pill form for patients that communicates through their digital health feedback system to track vitals, which/whether medications were taken, body positioning, and the body’s response to medications. A meta-analysis from 2012 estimated between $100 billion to $269 billion of annual healthcare costs are due to non-compliance.1 The implications for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry are potentially enormous.

Enabling the ability to track medication compliance will help lower healthcare costs and can dramatically improve patient lives. Mistakes in medication not only complicate the patient’s condition, confuse physicians, but they can also prove to be fatal. The idea of swallowing a sensor to track medication compliance, body positioning, and medication-taking body responses may seem futuristic, but the time is here! If pharmaceutical companies were to partner with Proteus, as Otsuka and Novartis already have, imagine not only the multitude of data that can be analyzed to provide insights, but the millions of patient lives that might avoid another costly ER visit due to taking the wrong medication or not taking the appropriate medication at all.

This type of technology narrows the current large gap between physicians’ perceptions of a patient’s disease and symptoms and clinical reality post diagnosis and prescription fulfillment. This tool can provide physicians insight into the reasons behind confusing adverse effects and better understand and personalize treatment methods based on these findings. This type of tracking strengthens the trend we have been seeing over the past decade: personalized medicine which is not simply about genomics, but also about the ever-growing ecosystem of therapies, devices, and applications working together to fine-tune and improve patient outcomes.

This is an exciting and innovative technology that has the potential to help address an important aspect of our healthcare system. However, its dependent on patient willingness to swallow a sensor and be tracked 24/7. To what extent and under what circumstances would you be willing to try?

– Ashley