By tracking ingestions of each and every dose of medications, networked wellness systems will ensure high medication compliance in chronic care management resulting in better health outcomes.
According to World health Organisation (WHO), about one half of all patients worldwide do not take their prescription drugs properly resulting in billions of dollars of unnecessary expenditure.
In the United States alone, the avoidable spending due to patients not taking their medications is estimated to be $290 billion dollars.
Poor drug compliance is a severe problem in chronic care management and often results in additional healthcare risks and unnecessary hospitalisations. For example, up to 90% of diabetics do not take their prescription drugs well enough to benefit from them.
The only way caregivers can ensure compliance is to watch patients swallow each dose of their medications which is not practical in all circumstances.
While some indirect methods do exist to confirm medication adherence such as pill count, smart pill bottles and prescription refill rate, none of them are reliable.
New advances in digital health technology might solve this problem through networked wellness systems which consist of edible sensors in pills, wearable monitors and wireless devices to integrate data.
These systems are capable of documenting the actual ingestion of oral pills and also differentiate between various types and doses of drugs taken simultaneously.
Sensors are embedded inside pills and when taken by patients they are activated by fluids in the stomach.
The same is communicated to a wearable monitor which registers the ingestion time, date and the unique signature of the sensor.
The monitor would also typically collect other physiologic data and transmits it over a secure server using wireless devices so that periodic reports are generated to be reviewed by both the patient and the physicians.
Pre-clinical and early clinical trials of some networked wellness systems proved to be satisfactory.
The monitors identified four simultaneously ingested sensors with 100% accuracy.
Data integration and transmission among multiple devices and report generation have been successfully tested in the pilot studies signifying the high digital health technology readiness level.
Preliminary networked wellness systems have already been tested successfully in hypertension and heart failure populations.
As the digital health technology matures, these systems would find huge applications in complex chronic care management.
Since drug adherence and wellness behaviours strongly impact the health outcomes in chronic care, such digital health technologies would be very helpful in communicating objective, timely and actionable data to all the stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem.
This patient-centric, scalable digital health technology can be customised for diverse therapeutic areas such as metabolic, cardiovascular and neuropsychiatric care.
By reducing wasteful expenditure on medications and improving compliance, networked wellness systems will positively affect the health outcomes.