Scientists at California-based Proteus Digital Health are working on a system, titled Helius, that could help improve patient health by basically serving as a data reporter to doctors. A tiny sensor attached to a pill sends a signal to a skin patch when it comes into contact with the patient’s stomach acid. The data collected by the skin patch — which includes other health indicators, such as heart rate and sleep patterns — is then sent through Bluetooth to a computer or smartphone. In tests, earlier versions of the system showed a tracking accuracy rate of 95 percent.
What’s the Big Idea?
In the US, half of all medications aren’t taken as prescribed, leading to health care costs in the billions of dollars as well as thousands of deaths every year. Several different workarounds have been tried in the past, with varying results. However, a trial involving tuberculosis patients showed that “the technology resonated with [them],” said Robert Belknap of the University of Colorado-Denver. Proteus has not yet indicated when Helius will become more widely available.
US Geological Survey researchers say that by simply tracking the word “earthquake,” they’re able to pinpoint seismic activity much more quickly than with their own specialized equipment. However, because it’s Twitter, the method is far from perfect.