Early in August, the FDA gave its official stamp of approval for a "digital pill" that will help medical professionals track a patient's health from inside the body. Sounding like something dreamed up in the mind of a Hollywood screenwriter – the 1966 classic Fantastic Voyage comes to mind – there's actually a lot more science fact here than science fiction.
Created by Proteus Digital Health, the digital pill – which used to bear the moniker "Ingestion Event Marker" but is now simply being referred to as an "ingestible sensor"– was developed as a means of informing doctors when their patients have taken their scheduled medication. Apparently, people not taking their prescribed medications at the right times and in the right dosages is a big problem in the medical industry. Big enough for Proteus to have gone to bat to invent an ingenious method of monitoring pill intake remotely without having to have someone holding the patient's hand.
Far from giving doctors the ammunition necessary to reprimand their patients for failing to take their pills at the right time, the information collected will give doctors better insight into developing a medication schedule that's better tailored to the patient's habits. It will also be able to tell doctors how patients are responding to their medications, as well as gathering and transmitting addition information like heart rate, body position and activity level.