Wednesday, November 16, 2011

#MEMS: "Smart Pills Transmit After Being Swallowed"

Smart medicine needs smart tools, and the smart pill will be the "point of the spear," according to presenters at the MEMS Executive Congress.

As the world population ages, smart medicine is coming up with all sorts of monitoring systems for allowing the elderly to remain home instead of being institutionalized. Cloud-based services monitor patients remotely to make sure they are safe, right down to tracking whether they have taken their meds today, by virtue of smart pills.
"We need a more affordable and personal health care infrastructure--an intelligent medical approach that takes proven drugs and digitally enables them with grain-of-sand-sized devices made of materials in your diet, but which generate small bio-organic 'digital signatures' specific to each medicine," said Ben Costello, vice president of product engineering at Proteus Biomedical.
Medical implants of all types are becoming increasingly commonplace--from tried-and-true devices like pacemakers to next-generation smarter medical solutions that take advantage of the ubiquitous cloud-based broadband infrastructure now encircling the globe. Smart pills are the newest frontier, having recently received authorization to go on sale in Europe in 2012.

The Raisin System from Proteus Biomedical includes smart pills (center) that transmit their state back to the smart patch (bottom right)--a wearable physiologic monitor that relays vital medical stats to a smartphone in contact with cloud-based analytics accessible from the HealthTiles app (left).
One solution leading the charge is the Helius system being launched in the U.K. next year. The system combines smart pills with a wearable physiological monitor that looks like a designer band-aid, but uses a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) called ChipSkin that tracks the smart pill's progress along with the patient's heart rate, respiration, sleep-state and temperature. The smart pill--activated by stomach fluids after swallowing--allows all monitored biological data to be transmitted from the wearable physiological monitor to cloud services where medical analytics integrates it with other telemetered parameters such as blood pressure, weight, blood glucose and patient-generated feedback, all of which can be displayed on a smartphone.
The smart pill--called an Ingestible Event Marker by Proteus Biomedical--is made from organic materials ordinarily found in foods, but can be tracked by the Helius bandage-like wearable monitor, which transmits that patients have taken their meds back to cloud-based servers whose analytics can be displayed by running the HealthTile application on a smartphone.
The entire system--called the Raisin Personal Monitor by Proteus Biomedical--has been approved for use in the European Union countries and is currently under review for approval in the U.S. The Raisin Personal Monitor will be sold by retail pharmacies, and will also become a part of institutional-based outpatient service units aimed at reducing the cost of caring for the elderly by allowing them to stay at home.
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