Ingestible sensor gives doctors something to digest

Integrated care

A dissolvable sensor – which has the ability not just to measure a treatment’s effectiveness but also tracks medication adherence ‘from the inside’ – has become the first product of its kind to gain approval by the US Food and Drink Administration (FDA).

The sensor, when swallowed with medication, streams information – of time taken, activity and heart rate – to an adhesive patch worn by the patient and then to the cloud, enabling data to be made available to the patient on his or her mobile device. This data can then be shared with the patient’s physician, accessed on a clinical dashboard by care teams or aggregated for population health programmes.

Hope for chronic conditions

According to the sensor’s creator, US firm Proteus, 50% of patients do not follow their prescribed medication regime, leading to a worsening of chronic conditions and increased annual healthcare costs in the US of between $100 and $300bn(€91.6- €274.9bn).

Barton Health, a one-hospital, 110-bed health system in Lake Tahoe, in the US Sierra Nevada, is conducting what’s widely considered to be the first trial of such sensors. The hospital began enrolling subjects in December in the pilot, which involves 100 patients with hypertension.

Improving medication adherence

Dr Clint Purvance, the hospital’s CEO and a practicing physician, says the sensor - the size of a grain of sand and embedded in a generic pill - is designed to measure the medication’s effectiveness the moment it enters the stomach. More importantly, it gives providers the best chance of knowing exactly when and how much of a medication is taken by the patient.

Purvance says this method is far more accurate than asking a patient whether he or she is following doctor’s orders on taking medication. “It’s a great tool for us to really understand what a patient is doing,” he says. And while measuring adherence, it also tracks how that medication affects the patient and treats the symptoms.

Purvance expects to expand the use of ingestibles to other chronic conditions in coming months and years.

You can read the full story here.