Investigators from Georgia Tech developed an electronic necklace that can detect magnetized (tagged) pills as they pass through the esophagus. The idea is that the necklace will record the date and time of PO intake, and will send the data wirelessly to the computer.
“Forgetfulness is a huge problem, especially among the elderly, but so is taking the medication at the wrong time, stopping too early or taking the wrong dose,” said Maysam Ghovanloo, assistant professor in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Studies show that drug noncompliance costs the country billions of dollars each year as a result of re-hospitalization, complications, disease progression and even death.”
Ghovanloo and graduate student Xueliang Huo have designed a sensor necklace that records the date and time a pill is swallowed, which they hope will increase drug compliance and decrease unnecessary health care costs. The device could also be used to ensure that subjects in clinical drug trials take the study medications as directed by the research team. The details of the proof-of-concept device were published in the December 2007 issue of the IEEE Sensors Journal.
The necklace, called MagneTrace, contains an array of magnetic sensors that could be used to detect when specially-designed medication containing a tiny magnet passes through a person’s esophagus. And for persons who may not want to wear a necklace, MagneTrace sensors can be incorporated into a patch attached to the chest.
The date and time the user swallowed the pill can be recorded on a handheld wireless device, such as a smartphone, carried on the user’s body. The information can then be sent to the patient’s doctor, caregiver or family member over the internet. The device can notify both the patient and the patient’s doctor if the prescribed dosage is not taken at the proper time.
MagneTrace, on the other hand, was designed so that it would have no effect on the body. Multiple strong magnets in the gastrointestinal tract can potentially result in a blockage. However, the magnet used in the pill or capsule is very small – three millimeters in diameter and about one millimeter thick – and coated with a thick indigestible, insoluble polymer coating that prevents absorption of the magnet and prevents magnets from aggregating.
Press release: Sensor Necklace Aims to Increase Drug Compliance…