Health care is a massive industry but is often criticized due to its inefficient standards and regulations at times. A study from the World Health Organization shows that over half the pharmaceuticals prescribed to patients are done so unjustifiably. Health care organizations are not all at fault however, the W.H.O. also stated that studies indicate that over half the medications prescribed to patients are not taken regularly as they should be. With failings on both the side of the consumer and the provider a solution has been proposed by the digital health care technology company Proteus in their latest biotechnology based product.
Proteus has proposed a microchip sensor that can be placed within a capsule and ingested by a patient which can send electronic signals to a doctor thus allowing a doctor to easily monitor the status of his patient. Although many might find this highly intrusive it could prove beneficial for patients with chronic illnesses and life threatening illnesses that require constant maintenance. The chip uses copper and magnesium which are both essential minerals for the human body attached to a grain of sand which can create a similar result as can be seen in a potato battery. When the sensor comes in contact with stomach acids it produces a charge which is relayed as an electronic signal to a patch worn on the patient.
The patch can indicate a variety of factors such as vital signs, sleep and movement in the patient. Data is relayed from the external patch to a cloud server where doctors can check in on a variety of devices to ensure that patients are taking their medication accordingly. Each time a signal is sent this indicates to the caregiver or doctor that the pill has been ingested. The microchip embedded within the pill provides accurate data on the type of drug ingested and its dose along with a time stamp. This may prove beneficial for certain illnesses that require drugs to be taken on a precise regiment to ensure their proper functionality. Additional indicators on side effects are relayed as well which include whether the dosage is correct and whether the drug achieved its intended function.
The prototype of the Proteus sensor has launched its pilot tests throughout the UK to provide a greater insight into the benefits and drawbacks of this technology. Oracle, a hardware and software company most notable for their acquisition of Java, has already invested in Proteus to support their technology. Oracle believes that its relationship with Proteus can provide a greater ability for life science technologies to enhance human health. Currently Oracle manages the cloud servers and software that receive the data from the patient to be relayed to the caregivers.
The cooperation between Proteus and Oracle could prove to provide enhanced solutions in the industry of biotechnology and health care with the goal of creating early warning detection and management of serious conditions. This creates a level of accountability and responsibility in providers which was previous left up to the patient to manage independently. Because of the rising cost in health care insurances having the ability to monitor doses of required medication could eventually save health care providers additional costs for prescribed medication that is not taken by the patient. Recent studies have shown that approximately 7% of electronic prescriptions contain errors while 37% of prescriptions which are hand written by a doctor contain errors. Dispensing errors make up about 2-3% of prescription errors as well. The total cost for these failures of the distribution of pharmaceuticals results in an estimated bill of approximately $200 billion annually which equates to an average of 8% of total health care expenses.
The technology created by Oracle called MedSnap ID app allows pharmacists to take photos of pills prescribed so that the sensor can properly identify them. Approximately 3,500 different types pharmaceutical drugs (including different manufacturers) are currently uploaded into the system. The sensor can also tell an almost precise dose to a tenth of a millimeter and use color, shape and shape to identify the drug in a digital repository. Indications can also be flagged to a doctor if there is a harmful dose or if there are any interactions with other drugs ingested by the patient. If this technology proves to be as reliable as it indicated in initial testing tremendous benefits can be gained by consumers and providers in the health care industry alike.Tags: health care, pharmaceuticals