Children's Health tests digital pills to track med adherence


Children's Health in Dallas is testing technology to track how well patients stick to complex medication schedules in real time using sensors the size of a grain of sand embedded in pills.

The first patient enrolled, 6-year old Riley Kinman, underwent a kidney transplant last year. She takes a complicated daily regimen of vitamins, steroids, blood pressure, urinary tract and immunosuppressive drugs. Getting too far off schedule could leave her on dialysis and needing a new kidney.

From inside the patient’s stomach, the sensor communicates with a patch worn on the patient’s side and can relay information such as spikes or dips in blood pressure, heart rate, physical activity and sleep patterns, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Healthcare organizations have been testing an array of technologies including texting, smartphone apps, e-prescribing and EHR dashboards to address the problem of medication adherence, estimated to cost $289 billion in preventable healthcare visits and hospitalizations.

The patch transmits data via the cloud to a server at the hospital where her care is monitored.

Patients and caregivers can view the data being transmitted from this “digital medicine” on an iPad issued by the hospital. They and physicians can easily tell whether medications have not been taken or taken in the wrong dose or schedule.

The technology previously has been tested on adults with chronic conditions; this constitutes the first extensive test in pediatrics, according to the article.