With an increasing dependency on technology in the home, it was only a matter of time before we had a solid means to ensure medications are taken on time. Everything from ‘Net-connected thermostats and toasters to refrigerators that can be accessed from the grocery store if you’re just not sure if you have enough broccoli for dinner, wireless technology has crossed from convenience to dependence. While the repercussions of slightly-over-toasted bread won’t have long-term impact, missing doses of critical medications can impact pain management, lengthen recovery time, or significantly impair one’s ability to function.
Pill Tracking – The Methods
Since the earliest forms of prescription, people have relied on tools such as calendars, lists, and other people in order to track dosage and consumption. With the added convenience of pill boxes and alarms, there has been little progress in this arena until recently, where several tech start-ups and a few larger medical technology manufacturers have stepped up to the plate.
The Smart Pill Bottle
While in the hospital or short term rehabilitation center, patients receive care around the clock, including scheduled doses of their prescribed medications. Once the patient returns home, it’s up to the individual or their in-home caregiver to remember to administer medication at the right time. Enter the smart pill bottle. Vitaly’s smart pill bottle has built in cellular technology and sensors that can be programmed to light up when medication is required and reset when the bottle cap is unscrewed. If the bottle is ignored for more than 2 hours past the scheduled time, the bottle uses it’s own cellular connection to ring the preprogramed phone number of the patient or caregiver.
While not widely adopted yet, this technology has been undergoing pharmacy trials for more than a year, and is expected to be coming to a pharmacy near you soon.
It sounds a little Sci-Fi, but ingestible sensors have been used in exploratory surgery and digestive health studies for many years, and one company is currently in pursuit of a micro-sensor which is small and cost-effective enough to insert into pills. The patient must wear a patch on their abdomen which receives data from the sensor including time of activation (consumption), heart rate, and a variety of factors including activity level and sleep patterns. This information can then be synced with the patient or caregiver’s tablet or smartphone and transmitted to the doctor or nursing staff. An exciting application for this technology is even inside the hospital or transitional care facility, where certain baselines can be established in a relatively non-invasive way—even when the patient is asleep!
When you think of a “smart home” or “Internet of Things,” most people consider the conveniences this new revolution brings, though on it’s heels is a revolution for new medical processes, procedures, and monitors that are yet to be dreamed up, and tech that’s funded by voice-controlled interior lights.Tags: medication, medication technology, transitional care