Ingestible Technology – smart pills that can track your health from the inside out – is just on the horizon. One of the more cutting edge medical technologies under development are so-called “smart pills” that are packed with microscopic sensors and are then able to monitor one’s health. The technology is being developed to help doctors monitor the effects of medication in real time, so that it can adjust as needed. The smart pills would also be very useful for conducting clinical trials of new drugs.
Entrepreneur Magazine recently reported how a company called Proteus is working with Novartis and Otsuka Pharmaceutical to create a line of ingestible monitoring devices. The devices will be able to monitor things such as dose timing as well as physiological reactions such as heart rate, skin temperature, and other factors. Possible side effects of the drugs can be monitored as well and dealt with before they become serious.
Proteus already has a rudimentary smart pill approved by the FDA. The Helius, as it is called, has a tiny sensor that interacts with a battery powered patch that monitors such things as sleep, activity, respiration, and heart rate. The patch is designed to send its data periodically to a smart phone. The first fully integrated pill that includes medication and sensors that can be used to monitor drug consumption and its effect on the human body is expected to be available in 2014 or 2015, according to Fast Company’s Co Exist. Beyond that there will be pills that can monitor core body temperature, another key data point for doctors monitoring their patients.
While being able to measure a person’s state of health in real time wherever he or she is would be a boon for medical science, it is not without its drawbacks. Insurance companies and government health agencies would like to have access to that kind of data, the former to adjust premiums, the latter perhaps to determine access to health care based on behavior. But that is a problem for legislators and regulators to wrestle with.