Patient compliance in taking their medication on time has been a major concern of healthcare providers. Patients who miss doses or fail to take them at prescribed intervals, often end up in the hospital, primary medical care center, or urgent care clinic, with complications due to their non-compliance.
The answer to this problem may lie in a tiny sensor that, when swallowed, tracks when patients take their medication. The first-ever of its kind is a digital version of the popular anti-psychotic medication, Abilify, called Abilify MYCITE. This digital pill made of magnesium, silicon, and copper, has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but is also raising concerns for privacy and security.
The digital pill works by way of a tiny sensor which is approximately the size of a grain of sand that works as a GPS tracking system as it travels through the body while communicating to an external device. The external device could be an app or a patch that is attached to the skin. Healthcare Providers such as those at primary medical care centers and urgent care clinics can make more accurate assessments of patient compliance as self-reporting is often not very reliable.
The goal of the digital pill is not only useful in managing patient compliance, but also to more accurately individualize prescription doses. It is also hopeful that the digital pill will also provide real-time information on how the patient is responding to the medication and allow doctors to make timely adjustments to prescription dosages.
While this new digital pill is revolutionary, it still does not replace traditional medications but works with them. However, the future of digital therapeutics is quite real and could someday replace the need for traditional oral prescriptions.
The cost of the Abilify MYCITE has yet to be determined. However, it’s manufacturers are hopeful that more doctors and insurance plans will offer it to their patients as they plan to slowly roll it out to general use.