If all goes well (and with your permission), in 2011 Proteus Biomedical will be emailing reports on prescription drug performance and compliance from your stomach directly to your doctor. It works like this: patient swallows a pill with both medicine and a tiny sensor chip (where stomach acid acts as a battery for the chip), chip transmits to a skin patch, the skin patch to a cell phone, and the cell phone to your doctor.
Technologies like this have the potential to save as much as $290 billion annually in increased medical costs due to people not taking medications as prescribed. Drug adherence is only 50 percent in developed countries like the U.S., so the potential to reduce costs and improve outcomes is huge.
We didn’t include this particular technology in health care scenarios for Arizona in 2030, but we should have. Here, technology could literally “save us” from ourselves. There’s this pesky little problem of privacy, of course, but Proteus is “working” on that. The pill is in clinical trials for heart disease, hypertension and tuberculosis, and will begin testing in psychiatric illnesses soon.
One of science fiction’s favorite themes is a world where humans have become machines that are vastly superior to the old biological “wet ware” version. Today, you take the pill. Tomorrow, you are the pill, so to speak. Will we still be human then? More to the point, will we even care?