New ‘edible’ microchips will soon be available to alert doctors and mobile phones if patients are not taking their medications, each smaller than a grain of sand. The chips record the ‘precise’ medical details of a patient’s pill regime and are scheduled to be available in Britain by the end of the year.
The microchips will be unleashed by a partnership involving both an American biomedical company and a British healthcare firm.
Labeled as ‘digestible sensors’, the microchips are set up to send alerts to the mobile phone of a doctor or designated ‘caretaker’ if patient has strayed from their specified pill routine. The companies say that they are attempting to develop ‘intelligent medicines’.
Upon taking the pill, it will be digitally recorded and time-stamped as they are digested in the body. The chips themselves are activated by stomach acid.
A spokesman for the healthcare company, Lloyds- pharmacy, cited the difficulties involved with remembering medications as a need for the invasive chips. Steve Gray, healthcare services director of the company launching the chips, stated:
Anyone taking several medications knows how easy it can be to lose track of whether or not you’ve taken the correct tablets that day.
At the center of the chip is a small silicon wafer that separates minor quantities of copper and magnesium, which in turn creates a microscopic battery that emits and electric currents upon coming into contact with the acidic environment of the stomach. The currents, given specific signatures to identify the drug taken, are picked up by a patch stuck on the skin of the patient. The patch records the information transmitted by the chip, and sends it out through Bluetooth technology to a mobile phone.
The maker of the chip, Proteus Biomedical, plans on rolling it out as a fully integrated system that can send out detailed alerts if an individual strays from their pharmaceutical schedule.
‘In the future the goal is a fully integrated system that creates an information product that helps patients and their families with the demands of complex pharmacy,’ said Andrew Thompson, the chief executive and founder of Proteus Biomedical.
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