Regulators at the U.S Food and Drug Administration have greenlighted Abilify MyCite
, a pill that contains a tiny, swallowable sensor the size of a grain of sand that can track when the user takes their meds.
Once the pill has been swallowed, its sensor communicates with a mobile app, allowing the patient and physicians to track the ingestion of the medication on their smart phone. Digital pills aim to improve the personalisation of medications to patients, providing useful insight into how a patient is responding to their drugs in real time, allowing caregivers to adjust doses as needed.
However, this new development only scratches the surface of how data collection is beginning to impact the healthcare system. The ever increasing popularity of health tracking wearables such as watches and monitors from suppliers such as Android, Fitbit and Apple, along with the use of health monitoring apps is already enabling the collection of vast amounts of data surrounding blood pressure, physical activity, diet, medication intake and weight. If this data can be effectively analysed it should enable a shift towards prevention based healthcare systems. Socioeconomic and lifestyle trends can be used to inform physicians about a patient’s overall health, risk of health problems, and how they may respond to certain medications. Not only does this kind of data improve the ability of health providers to diagnose and treat, but can provide significant benefits to patients. Positive reinforcement of goals in real-time, during the treatment phase, can provide the motivation that individuals need to exercise more, eat better, or adhere to recommended medications.<br /> <br /> In the past less frequent, population based data and health information has been analysed by bio-informaticians to model predictive and prescriptive recommendations, such as the Framingham Absolute Cardiac Risk model https://www.framinghamheartstudy.org/
but more recently individualised and computer driven training of models have been seen to be competitive with advances in machine learning.
The collection and analysis of big data will also increasingly impact insurance companies
, where a more accurate view of a person’s lifestyle and health risks can be used to provide personalised premium options. This improved risk signalling will see a broader spread of premiums emerge, with some enjoying rewards for their healthier lifestyles, and others facing higher premiums than they previously would.
So do we really want our insurers to know how many steps we’ve walked, how many calories we’ve consumed, and how many hours we’ve slept? Do we really want our intake of medications to be digitally enforced via ingestible sensors?
Big data analysis holds huge potential for the reform of the healthcare system, and incentivising people to engage more with their own health, but do the benefits outweigh the increasingly “big brother” tone of the monitoring and recording of our daily lives, even if it is consensual? We believe there has to be a balance with consumers, governments and corporations participating in the conversation with a special role for those people who commit their lives to the care of patients, the health professionals.
Protogen Technologies is a leading provider of applied data insights and analytics and has extensive experience processing large data sets from public and private health, education and financial sources. Please contact us
if you are interested in more information.