The FDA has just approved an ingestible sensor that will be able to track if patients are taking their medication as prescribed, and at the right time. The maker, Proteus Digital Health, sees this “as a start of an era where digital medicine shifts the care paradigm”.
The sensor is the size of a grain of sand and can be ingested in a pill. It is activated when it encounters the stomach fluids and will be powered for a short period of time. It is digested similar to high-fiber food. The signal from the sensor is sent to a patch worn on the patient’s skin. This technology in the patch records the exact time the sensor was swallowed. From here, the information can be sent to a mobile phone application and can be received by the patient’s doctor and caregiver. The sensor is designed to collect a range of other measurements, such as heart rate and activity. According to Eric Topol, a geneticist and cardiologist, and author of the book “The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Healthcare, “This technology will give doctors a continuously updated picture of what is happening with each patient, will help them provide better, individualized care…The FDA validation represents a major milestone in digital medicine. Directly digitizing pills, for the first time, in conjunction with our wireless infrastructure, may prove to be the new standard for influencing medication adherence and significantly aid chronic disease management.”