Singularity Hub has written before about “smart pills,” or medications with tiny ingestible sensors in them that can help ensure that a patient takes his or her pills regularly when the patients isn’t up to the task.
About half of all medication prescribed in the United States is not taken as directed, according to CDC statistics. But are smart pills a higher-tech solution than they need to be?
CleverCap takes a somewhat less sci-fi approach. It’s a cap that fits on standard pill bottles. It includes an alarm that tells patients when it’s time to take their medications and it only dispenses the prescribed amount. The device connects to the Internet to allow doctors and pharmaceuticals to monitor patients’ compliance. It connects via a mobile device or a Qualcomm Life hub called 2Net.
Sure, CleverCap leaves room for a wily patient to flush the meds down the toilet. (If the patient it schizophrenic, say, that could be a real problem.) But, in exchange, it eliminates the rather unsavory option of swallowing a computer chip and doubles as a child-proofing device. And, unlike smart pills, the device can be reused and reprogrammed.
The dispensing pharmacist replaces a standard pill-bottle cap with the CleverCap and programs in dosage instructions rather than printing them on a label.
Qualcomm Life, meanwhile, hopes to become the platform that captures patient data as it flows in from a variety of connected medical devices. The platform allows doctors and pharmacies to access the data in secure ways that keep it private as required by U.S. law.
“[M]edication adherence information is more valuable for clinical and research purposes when analyzed in the context of synchronized remote-monitored vital signs," said Moses Zonana, CEO of Compliance Meds.
While connected medical devices are popping up nearly by the day, no one knows how they will end up communicating with one another and with doctors and patients. That’s why 2Net scoops up with Wi-Fi and cellular data and offers a home hub and a mobile app software development kit, or SDK.
The back-end issues are thorny: Doctors, patients and pharmacists need to be able to access the patient's information, and all but the patient should be able to edit the dosage information. But from the front end, it's hard to knock smart technology that sits on the shelf and works even if the connection fails. Especially when you don't have to eat it.
Images: Markus Mainka and auremar via Shutterstock.com, Compliance Meds Technologies