The IEM mobile app runs on Android-based smartphones, but Savage said Proteus expects to have a version available for Apple's iOS next year. The company also expects to expand the range of applications that can work with the sensor to support different patient scenarios relating to specific therapeutic areas, patient living situations, or the population of customers using the sensor and digital medical system, he said.
Proteus already has run a number of clinical trials with the IEM in various populations and reports positive feedback, with "people seeing enormous value in what the technology can offer," Savage said. There have been some red flags raised over the potentially invasive nature of integrating a digital tracking device into a medication. Topol said that these concerns are "legitimate." The IEM is "an option and new emerging choice that will be out here for some patients and some circumstances."
Savage said inclusion in pills is certainly not the only use for the IEM or the rest of his company's digital medical system. "The technology platform can be used to create an array of different products for different customers," he said. "We expect most of the products to target people suffering from chronic illness and their support team -- family caregivers, clinicians, etc."
Proteus will launch the first commercial IEM and related digital health system in the UK this year. FDA approval has paved the way for use in the US in the near future.
Good point, Rob. The smart phone and apps make the package all the more compelling, but there can be modifications to the design to support more traditional and accessible (to the elderly, that is) devices. I'm thinking a link to those devices eldery can wear that they can use to contact someone in the event that they fall and can't get up (Come on, we've all seen those commercials).
Good points, Beth. Yet even without smartphones could probably access the signal through a laptop. The message from the patch on the skin could be sent to any number of devices with little adjustment from the manufacturer.
Regarding the statement made about privacy concerns, ("There have been some red flags raised over the potentially invasive nature of integrating a digital tracking device into a medication.") Have you ever noticed that most people who object to privacy issues are usually doing something illegal-? Like illegal drug trafficking, for example. Legitimate users of this technology should have no objections; and if they do there are several links in the communication chain they can easily unplug, such as the WiFi link outbound from the mobile phone app. Sheesh. Some folks would complain over a winning Lotto ticket...
Pharmacology is the applied science of chemistry, taking known chemical compounds and subjecting them into environments where they will chemically react in an expected and repeatable manner. All medications work this way. The essential point of this innovative technology is the same, as the article points out: "...the size of a grain of sand, it includes two elements found in food: magnesium and copper. The two metals act as electrodes to form an electrochemical reaction when they contact stomach fluid." This is an epiphany; taking common electronic elements and placing them into a biological environment, yielding repeatable expected results. Absolutely phenomenal discovery. Kudos to the researchers and to the FDA for approving this.
It is very nice to see innovation that falls in line with the larger trend of caring and nurturing that we see throughout the world right now. As the article mentioned, this is very helpful for patients who are busy or forgetful. It's good for caregivers.
One other thought I had was that this could help with prescription fraud. Recreational use of prescription drugs is at an all-time high. Inconsistencies or someone refusing to use this could send a warning signal.
This is so much more important than all the debate about how to "fund" medicine. There are lots of issues in that arena. Progress will be made through technology.
Over the past couple of years I have seen Martin Cooper, one to the developers of the first hand held cell phones at Motorola. During his standard speech Marty talks about combining medical sensors with communication technology to improve care. This is the realization of that vision.
Design News has recently featured articles about robotic surgery as well. Most fields of human endeavor have been made more efficient through design and technology. Currently, medicine is like policing. It's main effectiveness is evident after one has become ill. We need to use what we know to forestall that event, if possible.
While this development seems somewhat surreal, I have no doubt that in a short amount of time, this will be the norm. The technology is so ready for this kind of application and the integration with smart phones and apps is a perfect complement. The only rub I see (beyond the one raised in the piece about whether ingesting a sensor is actually wise) is that most elderly or folks that might take advantage of this likely don't have smart phones. That said, their care givers most likely do and a few years out from now, the level of adoption will be extended further. Very cool innovation.
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