Have you ever forgotten to take a medication as prescribed? Imagine if that medication could send a signal when you’ve taken it — so you could be reminded when you don’t.
Rush University Medical Center has begun to offer “digital medicine.” Called Proteus Discover, it’s an FDA-approved medical “device” that pairs medication with an ingestible sensor the size of a grain of sand, which works together with a wearable sensor patch and mobile app.
Rush is the first health care provider in Illinois to offer Proteus Discover, and one of only eight health systems across the country using the innovative medication. Rush is using Proteus Discover to help patients manage hypertension, one of the most common chronic illnesses in the United States.
“Some patients take multiple medications a day, and during busy times a patient may forget to take his or her required dose that is important for managing a chronic health condition, or multiple conditions,” said Dr. Anthony Perry, vice president for Population Health and Ambulatory Services at Rush.
“If that happens with Proteus Discover, and the patient has registered for notifications, the patient will receive a text notification of the missed dose. Compliance, or taking medicine as prescribed, is a very important clinical issue, and sometimes a challenge in maintaining health.”
How Proteus works
Proteus co-encapsulates each dosage of a patient’s prescribed medication with an ingestible sensor. The sensor is made of trace amounts of minerals found in common foods (such as copper, magnesium and silicon) and activated by stomach acid.
The sensor then communicates with a programmed wearable sensor patch worn on the upper left side of the patient’s abdomen. In addition to recording the time a patient swallows each sensor-enabled medicine, the patch can record personalized patient data such as average heart rate, steps and sleep time.
The patch transmits this information wirelessly to an application installed on a mobile device, such as a smartphone or iPad, for patients to monitor and share with their health care provider.
“This is an exciting, new way to truly partner with our patients in order to help them to improve their health,” Perry said. “This will help the patient better manage chronic conditions and be more actively involved in the care they receive at Rush.”
Tiny sensor helps address health issue
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, 33.5 percent of adults ages 20 and over have hypertension (measured high blood pressure and/or taking antihypertensive medication). In 2014, 30,221 deaths resulted from essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease.
Treating systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure until they are less than 140/90 mmHg is associated with a reduction in cardiovascular complications, according to the World Health Organization.
Proteus Discover has shown to be effective in helping to manage chronic health conditions such as hypertension. Additional measures relevant to treatment of chronic conditions may be integrated into the device in the future.
Proteus has been used in more than 60 clinical studies. Recent clinical trials evaluated the effectiveness and reliability of Proteus’ tiny sensors with success.
"Rush has been an innovative leader in providing advanced new diagnostic tools and treatments, and we are excited to offer Proteus,” said Amanda Tosto, RN, MS, director of population health and practitioner faculty in the Department of Health Systems Management at Rush. “We are happy to begin offering this new tool for patients to use.”