This tracks when the drugs were taken and the dose, as well as monitoring heart rate and body temperature. It also alerts a patient to when the next dose is due and records whether the patient is sleeping well or taking enough exercise.
Innovation: The shoulder patch logs what time the pills reach the patient’s stomach and sends the information to their smartphone
The information is downloaded to a computer or smartphone which can be accessed by the patient and their doctor.
Older patients, in particular, may need to remember to take five or more different pills at a time, three times a day, for problems such as heart disease and diabetes.
Around half of patients do not take their medication properly, meaning they are not getting the full benefit.
The Helius system could prove useful for patients on complex medication regimes. However, it will only be offered privately
Under the Helius system of smart pills, they would get the five drugs they need each time in a blister pack. The pack would also include the Helius tablet embedded with a sensor the size of a grain of rice.
This is made from food ingredients that react with stomach fluids to power a digital signal for around five minutes which sends information to the shoulder patch about what pills have been taken and when.
The information is then downloaded for the patient and doctor to check that the medication is being taken correctly. The estimated cost to the NHS of unused medication is thought to be almost £400million a year.
High street chain Lloyds-pharmacy has signed a deal with U.S.-based digital healthcare provider Proteus Biomedical to bring the system to Britain. Patients will be able to buy it privately for around £50 a month from September.
The sensor is swallowed along with the patient’s pills. It creates a unique electrical signal picked up by the skin patch. The patch transmits this data to a mobile using bluetooth
The sensor is the same size of a grain of rice
However Nick Pickles, of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘This technology has massive potential benefits for healthcare, but it should not be adopted at the expense of patient privacy.
‘Patients taking this medication, and their families, should be aware that they are doing so and be able to see a full breakdown of what data is captured and who it is accessed by.’
Steve Gray, healthcare services director of Lloydspharmacy, said: ‘Anyone taking several medications knows how easy it can be to lose track of whether or not you’ve taken the correct tablets that day.
‘Add to that complex health issues and families caring for loved ones who may not live with them and you can appreciate the benefits of an information service that helps patients get the most from their treatments and for families to help them remain well.’
Chip and pill trials have been carried out in the past but it is thought this is the first time it has been made available to consumers to buy.
“More intervention by the drugs companies at our expense. Carefully planned to help us ‘prepare’ for what they have in store for us – microchips in everybody so that certain governments can not only track us but programme us at the same time. Do NOT think these devices are designed for our health alone. Mind and body control is what is being planned – all controlled through our computers, mobile phones and TV sets. The US is already designing remote ‘illness-enhancers’ via the increasing number of invisible elector-magnetic waves (more money for the drug companies), our food and arable land is being contaminated daily to induce illness and NO drug company seriously wants us to remain healthy! Only a return to natural living, natural food and a far more natural lifestyle (i.e. not constantly in front of computers) will enable human beings to regain their health. Health is not gained, only ‘managed’, by taking an ever-increasing number of chemically-constituted pills!”