The US Department of Health and Human Services recently reported that five out of six Americans aged 65 and older take at least one medication daily, and almost half take three or more. Ensuring that patients are adhering to their medication schedules is something that has stumped healthcare professionals and launched countless apps and devices that attempt to improve medication adherence. Proteus Digital Health’s most recent invention ensures foolproof methods of alerting medical personnel that medications have been taken in the form of a tiny sensor that can be imbedded into pills and then swallowed. The sensor is activated and powered by the hydrochloric acid, potassium chloride, and sodium chloride that form stomach acid. This acid creates enough power for the sensor to link with and communicate to an adhesive patch worn by the patient, and the information is then relayed to a server that can be accessed by medical professionals or designated members of the patient’s family. The information will include a description of the medication taken, the dosage, and what batch it was issued from. This system will also be able to analyze the effects (or lack thereof) that the medication is having, whether its dosage is wrong, or if it just isn’t working.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology created a thumbnail-sized contraceptive chip for women that is implanted below the skin and can be wirelessly activated or deactivated for up to 16 years. The chip releases small doses of the hormone levonorgestrel automatically and daily, unless the chip is deactivated. The developers of the contraceptive chip insist the system is secure due to its algorithms and data encryption, but the reliability of the device in mechanical terms remains to be seen.