RFID – Now in Pill Form

Can RFID you remember to take your medicine?

A survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association found that 75% of adults do not take their medication as prescribed. Due to forgetfulness, inattention, or inability, this is an area of healthcare that challenges a majority of the population. A small percent of the population can afford directed healthcare, with nursing or caregiver support to help them stay on track with health issues. According to the Journal of American Healthcare 23% of nursing care admissions are due directly to misuse of medication.

There are many systems which have been designed to aid in this area of patient health, the least invasive of which are timers and day of week/time of day pill boxes. However, advanced technology such as RFID is now also being considered for use. Earlier in 2012, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of RFID in placebo pills. The small silicon chips, produced by Proteus Digital Health, are slightly modified so that they are ingestible. There is no battery or antenna. The chip, made of copper and magnesium, is activated when it comes into contact with stomach acid, thereby producing a signal. This  is then read by a disposable body patch, worn externally on the skin.

The data is then transmitted to a mobile device which sends pertinent information to the patient’s healthcare network. This can include the fact that the medication was taken, heart rate, and level of physical activity. While this use of RFID is only approved in placebos, Proteus is moving forward with trials and partnerships with drug companies. There is still discussion regarding future use in actual prescription medication.

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