Another Dubious Tech Solution in Healthcare?

When I saw the recent news about a pill with an ingestible sensor to track medication adherence/compliance, essentially the next level of Medication Event Monitoring Systems, I thought again about what I refer to as the “Belson Fallacy” – the belief that tech can solve every problem.

proteus discover image
The Proteus Discover

What I found particularly interesting was that this unique drug-device combination is intended for the “treatment of schizophrenia, acute treatment of manic and mixed episodes linked with bipolar I disorder”, conditions that can include symptoms such as “extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning“. So while on the surface, I do see a certain logic in having another means to ensure that patients are taking their medications, does this tech approach stand up under a little further scrutiny?

The manufacturer of the device was quoted as observing that, “Consumers already manage important tasks like banking, shopping, and communicating with friends and family by using their smartphones, as they go about their daily lives.” And while this is certainly true, doesn’t it take a leap of faith to believe that the human motivation that drives the use of consumer APPS would translate directly to human motivation that will drive patients on drug therapy to be compliant, especially patients who may not be thinking clearly – or possibly willing to intentionally obfuscate for reasons such as fear of drug side-effects?

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