Ingestible Sensor Serves as Prescription Drug Monitor
Proteus Digital Health's digital medical system includes an ingestible sensor that works with fluid in the stomach to connect with a patch worn on the skin to record the time the patient takes medication. That information is sent to a mobile application that connects to an Internet database to save the information, so patients can interact with caregivers and keep track of medicines they must take regularly. (Source: Proteus Digital Health)
What frequency does the sensor use to transmit to the patch? Does the sensor repeat it's transmission until it fails? Does the signal strength drop off noticeably if the patch is not in close contact with the skin? Can an external receiver with a high gain antenna be used instead? - such as in a hospital room? Couldn't the patch be designed to use wifi when possible, to connect directly to a website without racking up data fees on a mobile plan? And how about coming up with a companion product, a pill box that can receive the data and display the current status? How does the patch get powered? Does the patch use an internal rechargeable battery? User replaceable battery? What kind of data security is in place to make sure nobody can tamper with the user profile? - could be a good market for selling pills if you can 'convince' your patch that you actually swallowed the pill when in fact the signal was spoofed. So some explanation of why it can't be spoofed would be nice. Like maybe a random number of sufficient number of bytes to ensure some lifespan of useable numbers without needing to repeat any. And will taking the pill apart to seperate the transmitter from the drug be easy, or is thewre some design focus on making the sensor purposely disintegrate with that kind of tampering? Privacy issues are of course, going to be a concern to a lot of people. I doubt the FDA will require this technology when all they do is say if it can be used. But Hitachi's RFID powder is a more serious concern, because it can continue sending data long after ingestion. This pill sounds like it will cease functioning when the electrodes are consumed. So a police state scenario might be impractical based on this pill. That RFID powder on the other hand....
"Legitimate users of this technology should have no objections" So if I have an objection, that makes me a criminal?
Yes, Pollyanna, and the only people who need civil rights are criminals. That ranks right up there with "if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear from police".
Doesn't anybody think this is a little too Orwellian?
"Citizen, ingest your soma immediately or we'll send somebody to do it for you."
"You, with the green sweater, take your herpes medication immediately!"
"Sir, please hold your license up for me to inspect, I don't want to touch it on account of what you're taking medication for!"
"Whoa, look what this guy's taking pills for!"
If the patient has the ability to make an informed decision because they believe the technology is of benefit, without them being forced to accept the monitoring as a condition for receiving treatment, then great, I'm all for it. If the FDA mandates the tech has to go into every pill, then the implications are cause for concern, to put it mildly.
I think the privacy matters are definitely a concern and I'm sure those criminals seeking to take advantage of the system can and will find a means to do so. I suppose this risk will always be wth us. I will say this though, my parents are 90 years old and something as uncomplicated to most people under the age of 70 can be quite cumbersome when you are 75 + and in marginal health. Each weekend I call my parents to make sure they have "loaded" their pill boxs. We go over each medication day by day to insure they have the proper number of medications and the proper medications for the week. It would be marvelous if such a device as the one mentioned could actually be approved by the FDA. It would mean that after my Sunday call, I could be assured they actually took the pills. Having a "download" to my tablet or computer on a daily basis would provide me with information AND "hard copy" if needed for their doctors to study. I can imagine this being a real help if parents and their children live in differing cities, states, countries, etc. I think this is a great idea and one project that should be continued.
I would tend to agree with your statement about older persons vs. younger persons. No argument.
Regarding my other (just an opinion) regarding objections on privacy, I have nothing concrete to give you except my life experiences with un-warranted objections from the mis-informed, often over speculative issues that don't really exist, crying foul over the slightest implication of Big-Brother getting into their personal space. I don't buy into that level of privacy, and accordingly, I do not object, (for example) to being screened at an airport before boarding an aircraft.
My point being, I don't see anything to "cry foul" over ,,,,, yet someone always does.
I'm not really concerned about security, as the signal to the patch is bio-electrochemical and virtually undetectable to the outside. As for the patch-smartphone app link, people talk on their cell phones all day long without worry, and I guarantee it is easier to intercept a voice call rather than a short, encrypted data burst. Quite a lot of things would have to be perfectly optimal to pose a security risk.
I know that elderly patients often lose track of their medications but -- yikes! -- 50% of the medications prescribed by doctors are never taken? That's an amazing statistic. If I hadn't seen that statistic, I might be inclined to wonder why this technology is needed.
Research shows that the real divide on privacy concerns is primarily that older people are more often concerned, and younger people are less often concerned. Do you have any information to support your rather strange assertion?
This looks like an improvement, in terms of size anyway, on ingestible medical devices like the swallowable endoscope we reported on before http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1365&doc_id=231318 although that one had to incorporate a camera.
Those commercials are horrible. But you're right, Beth, once you have the signal from the pill to the patch, there are any number of ways to deliver that data to something compatible with an elderly lifestyle.
If the scanners for these medications become widely available to the underground, people could be targeted for their medications. Criminal walks into a shopping mall, detects that someone is ingesting some type of "desirable" painkiller and follows them to a non-public area or their home?
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