Smart Pills to Improve Patient Compliance
Medical services are able to measure patient compliance with their medications by utilizing microchips. A Swiss pharmaceutical company called Novartis is testing technology that inserts a tiny microchip into each pill the patient swallows, typically called smart pills. This microchip signal is detected by another chip that is placed in the patient’s shoulder, and a text message is then sent to the patient if they forget to take their pill on time. The technology has obviously improved patient compliance. This could certainly be useful for the elderly or perhaps someone with some mental impairment. Obviously, if you require a particular medication it will be more effective if taken as prescribed at about the same time each day.
Will Medical Records Remain Private?
Some people are concerned that their private medical treatment might not be kept private if a computer or smart phone is receiving their personal information. While it would be a helpful reminder for someone who forgets to take his or her pills, it will also be in a patient’s record. Our medical records should be private between us and our doctors, but, of course, your insurance company has a record of all medications and procedures since they pay for them. Could a non-compliant patient be penalized is some way if they don’t take their medication? Could the government get involved if you were non-compliant and receiving medicare?
For instance, I have a physician that always wants to increase my prednisone when I am having lung problems, but I have found this is a very temporary fix with serious side effects, so I choose not to increase the dosage. Could there be a day I when lose my insurance for not following this advice? Obviously this is just speculation on my part, but it is food for thought.
Smart Pills for Diagnosis
Smart pills have another advantage in their ability to effectively target specific areas of the stomach and intestines, which results in using drugs with lower doses, thus less side effects. Smart Pills are being used in six sites in the United States and has the potential to assist pathologists and medical doctors to diagnose various diseases. These include Crohn’s disease, colitis, colon cancer and gastroparesis.
Furthermore, Norvatis plans to add a microchip to drugs taken by transplant patients to help prevent organ rejection. Numerous other companies are in various stages of development for biochips.
Gastroparesis, a common problem in diabetics, is difficult to diagnosis. It is a condition problem occurring when high blood sugar destroys the vagus nerve in the stomach, thus preventing the stomach muscles from contracting. Prior to the Smart Pill the patient had to endure numerous invasive, expensive and frequently inconclusive tests.
The Smart Pill is a small capsule containing sensors and a radio transponder. As this capsule passes through the stomach, intestines and bowel it transmits important diagnostic information, such as the ph, temperature, and the amount of pressure in the stomach and the intestines to a receiver attached to a belt. Once the pill has made it through the system a medical doctor downloads the data to a computer, which gives the doctor an accurate picture of how the stomach is working. This allows the patient to receive treatment in a more timely fashion without invasive tests.
Glucose Monitoring Device
Another new continuous glucose monitoring device, which has been approved by the FDA, provides more information for managing diabetes. It looks like a wristwatch and while it does not replace finger sticks for blood glucose monitoring it does assists in ensuring accurate results.
The diagnostic Smart Pill should help diagnosis and treat various illnesses safely, plus more quickly than the large variety of typical specialized tests. It is a great advancement for gastroenterologists. Cancers are diagnosed earlier, thus the chance of recovery is greatly increased. This is certainly a a great new field for diagnosing and monitoring numerous diseases.
The microchip for monitoring, whether you are taking your medication on time is still in the developmental stage. It will be used in Europe first, probably in the next 18 months. It has not been approved by the United States FDA.