No matter how fast pharmaceutical companies can churn out drugs to prevent or cure illnesses, health insurance doesn't cover the cost of hiring a person to follow you around and remind you to take your meds. So the FDA has approved a pill that can do it on its own by monitoring your insides and relaying the information back to a healthcare provider.
The pills, made by Proteus Digital Health, have sand-particle-sized silicon chips with small amounts of magnesium and copper on them. After they're swallowed, they generate voltage as they make contact with digestive juices. That signals a patch on the person's skin, which then relays a message to a mobile phone given to a healthcare provider. It's only been approved for use with placebos right now, but the company is hoping to get it approved for use with other drugs (which would be where it would get the most use).
Even if there's a slight whiff of dystopia about a pill that tracks your actions, it does help with a major problem. Patients aren't the best at taking their pills, especially those suffering from chronic illnesses, so it's one step of many toward a future where they don't have to.
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Perhaps they could be so kind as to alert the pill taker first, rather than the provider.
I take one pill a day, and I have been known to miss it, despite various schemes to prevent that.
There are meds that are taken everty other day, or even once or twice a week. Those are prime candidates for error.
So, call the poor schmuck and say -- hey it's 10:00 -- do you know where your meds are. ( That's all the provider can usually do).
In the case of someone on some kind of behavior control med, notification of an outsider might be a better option.
Even seniors, in some situations, might welcome a visit from an agent. I know that most 'independant' senior communities offer a medication service that involves someone arranging your pills, and trying to ensure that you take them. Seniors are willing to pay for this service, if it's needed.
The idea that a Doctor might impose a monitoring service on basically anyone is a little repulsive.
So the whole path is chip to patch to mobile to person to phone call to patient? Why even bother with all that, I wonder? Why not just have it send a local signal to some beeping thing. "oh, that's my pill alarm, I better take it." Problem solved, much less technology/human interaction in the way.
The self replicating pill begins to digest and transform poor poor sad victim into a Borg, ever so slowly. Bra ha haha haha! Once the change moves forward enough, a network plug interface will emerge from the back of his neck and he will have a desire to plug into the network and begin receiving his download program from IBM Blue. HA HA HA!! HAHA!
After several thousand humans are transformed into the Borg, they all gather in one place and begin to build the mother space ship, destination to Mars!
How about planting a chip into convicts who are going to be paroled? If a parolee leaves one State for another without permission, then he/she might get caught sooner. Is there a way to plant chips into guns so that if a person tries to remove the chip, the whole firearm would be unuseable? It was an idea..