Ingestible Smart Pills and the Future of Medicine.

I love where medicine is heading these days – from reactive to proactive. I’m a big fan of personalized medicine – and have a Zeo and a subscription to 23andMe. I’m

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always keeping my eyes open for the latest developments and when I recently changed primary physicians I purposely looked for one that utilized electronic health records.

It appears that some of the first ingestible smart pills are about to be commercially available. You can learn more in Brian Dolan’s article for mobihealthnews. I’m looking forward to someday taking an ingestible smart pill that will wirelessly communicate with my computer to track and analyze my health, such as:

  • Did I remember to take my medications today and at what time?
  • What did I eat today? How many calories were involved?
  • How much exercise did I get? At what times and in what intensity?
  • What vitamins, minerals, or other trace elements do I need to consume more of?
  • Has there been an increase or decrease in x or y that indicates a concerning health issue I should be aware of?
  • How much stress did I suffer throughout the day?
  • How much sleep did I get and what was the quality of my sleep?

I think such personalized medicine could help bring our healthcare costs under control. Think about it…

  • We’d be reminded to take important medications.
  • We’d easily hold ourselves accountable for our caloric intake and exercise.
  • We’d increase the nutritional value of our intake as we saw areas in which our diet was specifically weak and were able to track progress in remedying this situation over time.
  • We’d be able to determine exactly what supplements would be helpful for us.
  • Numerous health issues could be detected long before they became a crisis – avoiding numerous hospitalizations and other emergency procedures which are extremely expensive.
  • Diabetics and others with chronic illnesses would be able to constantly monitor their condition.

Consumable Microchips.

I love seeing technology innovate. I’m especially fond of technologies which provide opportunities for advancing social good. Consumable microchips is one of those technologies and Elizabeth Armstrong Moore has written a great article on the topic for CNET, highlighting the impending release of Novartis/Proteus Biomedical’s consumable microchips.

Why would we want a consumable microchip? Ohh, the reasons are infinite. The implementations will probably be pretty narrow to start. Elizabeth mentions as a means of watching for organ rejection, monitoring heart rate, and so on. To these one could add monitoring the dosage of restricted substances – e.g. amphetamines (used to treat ADD, but also abused widely, especially by teens and college students).

Where I really would get psyched is in the utilization of these sorts of chips for general health monitoring. I’d love to have a microchip floating through my body monitoring my core temperature, correlating what I eat to my health, measuring bloody oxygen levels, warning about congestion issues, finding out that I’m coming down with a virus hours or days before I actually get knocked off my feet.