Digestible Sensors

Digestible sensors that can report medication adherence and vital signs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This ingestible sensor, which looks like a regular pill, and which was already been approved for use in Europe in 2011, can convey information about the patient to medical professionals and help them customize care.

According to Dr. George M. Savage, co-founder and chief medical officer at Proteus Digital Health, “We are thrilled to have achieved this important milestone to market our ingestible sensor in the United States now, as well as in Europe. We are very much looking forward to bringing the benefits of our ingestible sensor to the American public in the form of innovative product offerings.”

How it works

The sensor, which is the size of a grain of sand, can be put inside a pill or other consumables and is powered by stomach fluid. Then, once swallowed, the device communicates a signal to a patch on the user’s stomach that can determine when the item was consumed, as well as other physiological and behavioral metrics including heart rate, body position and activity. After which, the information can be sent to a mobile phone app to the patient, and, with the patient’s permission, their medical caregivers.

It may seem terrifying to some to swallow a thing like this, but you should know and you might be relieved to learn that it has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

According to Proteus Digital Health, the sensor passes through the body like high-fiber food.Each pill contains a one-square-millimeter sensor that is coated in two digestible metals: copper and magnesium.These metals are not dangerous to consume because they currently exist in multi-vitamin supplements, as well as naturally in our diets.

How it can help

While there are doctors who are hesitant about this innovation, there are also those who feel that the device will be able to help with medicine adherence.

Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla,California says that “About half of all people don’t take medications like they’re supposed to. This device could be a solution to that problem, so that doctors can know when to rev up a patient’s medication adherence.”

Ingestibles are working to address issues surrounding chronic disease management, eradicating the need for never-ending physical checkups.

It has also been said thatan innovation of this nature could have far reaching effects for healthcare by helping detect diseases and conditions at earlier stages in people consuming these sensors that are in turn, continually monitored wirelessly.

However, this device is not meant to watch over the patient like a hawk, instead, the point of the sensor is to help doctors adjust medications and treatments if necessary as well as to understand how people are responding to their treatments. That way, they can prescribe a different dose or a different medicine if they learn that it’s not being taken appropriately.



Liane Clores, RN MAN

Currently an Intensive Care Unit nurse, pursuing a degree in Master of Arts in Nursing Major in Nursing Service Administration. Has been a contributor of Student Nurses Quarterly, Vox Populi, The Hillside Echo and the Voice of Nightingale publications. Other experience include: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Obstetric, Emergency and Recovery Room Nursing.

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