Ever been lost on a new trail on a hike? Or confused between north and south in a new city? Or after a certain age, unsure if you really took that anti-cholesterol pill last night—or was it the blood-pressure pill? They kind of look the same.
GPS apps in your phone may lead you back to the right path, but keeping track of your pills is another matter. Only about 50 percent of patients take their medications as prescribed. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010 almost 40 percent of adults older than 65 were taking five or more prescriptions a day.
Managing real and potential medication conflicts and confusions is more pressing as 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day, and 90 percent suffer at least one chronic illness.Many boomers are now swallowing a cocktail of medications prescribed by various specialists: pain medicines for aching backs, antidepressants, proton pump inhibitors to control gastric distress, vitamins and other over-the-counter supplements.
With families sometimes far away and many older people unable to afford personal caregivers, companies have searched for a technological solution to monitoring medicine.
Forget armband monitors like Fitbit—the newest body monitors are as tiny as BBs. These so-called nanomeds, miniscule sensors embedded in a placebo pill that you swallow, set up shop in your gut. As they slowly work their way through your system, these “ingestibles”—which are actually not digested—are switched on by contact with saliva and/or gastric juices. The signal is picked up by another sensor, which looks like a Band-Aid and is worn on your chest.