Business of Health Care: Trackable Pill

May 3, 2019

Privacy concerns over technology are not just limited to social media and smart phones.




A recent poll found that doctors are evenly divided over the cost and ethical implications of smart pills -an innovative technology which embeds sensors into medication to allow healthcare providers to monitor when it is taken.

The so-called smart pill contains a sensor about the size of a grain of sand that detects, records, and transmits the date and time a pill is ingested to a patch worn by the patient.

The patch then relays the data via a smart phone application to doctors, family members, or other caregivers.


The greatest potential benefit of smart pills is that patients may be more likely to take their medicine if they know it is being tracked.

Experts estimate that medication noncompliance costs $100 billion a year… much of it due to patients getting sicker and needing additional treatment or hospitalization because they didn’t take their medicine appropriately.

In fact, according to some estimates, patients not taking their medications as prescribed leads to about 10% of hospitalizations and 125,000 preventable deaths in the U.S. each year.

On the other hand, smart pills have the potential to lead to false-negative readings, and can stir anxiety among patients about having their behavior tracked.

There also is no evidence thus far that this technology will help patients take their medication as prescribed.

Regardless, with the Food and Drug Administration approving the first smart pill in late 2017, this technology’s potential is something worth tracking.