Smart pills, healthier patients?*

Drug and biomedical companies such as Proteus and Novartis are testing digital chips that can be attached to conventional medications to confirm and track if and when a patient takes their medication.  Patients wear a sensing patch on their skin and the drug compliance information is transmitted regularly to a smart phone.

Proteus Ingestible Sensors

From a general public standpoint, this seems a bit creepy—my doctor could literally manage my health from the inside out.  However, when you consider the amount of medication people 65+ consume as well as people with hard to manage conditions such as organ transplants or emerging trends of oral chemotherapy for cancer, the benefits of this technology become clear.  For these types of health conditions, the timing and regularity of the medication is critical for a healthy outcome for the patient.

Managing a chronic disease or serious illness is challenging, I think this technology could help patients better manage their medication and potentially save lives.

*Title borrowed from GE Healthy Outlook Blog

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Website is a Win-Win for Patients and Doctors

In today’s post, I want to highlight an up-and-coming website that offers innovative new technology AND empowers patients with choice and flexibility when they choose a doctor.  ZocDoc ( is a website that lists physicians so that patients can schedule an online appointment and view patient ratings of the doctor.  The service is offered in 16 cities around the US and patients can search by location, specialty and insurance information.

Screen shot from

According to the New York Times ZocDoc is attracting browsers at the rate of 800,000 per month.  I recently relocated to Baltimore and was tasked with finding a primary care physician.  I did a quick search on ZocDoc and unfortunately, my MD is not listed.  However, this service would have been convenient way for me to find a PCP or other specialist when I was searching for one a few months ago.

I did test search for an ophthalmologist in my area and was really impressed with the convenience of the appointment scheduling feature of the website.  Doctors have to pay a $250 fee per month to be listed on ZocDoc, but the website claims that the appointment scheduling feature creates efficiency (due to filling appointment slots) and helps doctors run a better business.  I was able to find a local ophthalmologist, review his credentials and patient reviews and see his available appointment slots—as early as Monday morning.  This is a win-win for patients and doctors trying to run a business.  Here is a bit of marketing from the ZocDoc website:

As this website gains momentum, it will empower patients with information beyond a phone book and enable them to schedule an appointment any time.  Imagine the poor soul with an embarrassing skin rash who works 8-6 and doesn’t want to call a dermatologist from his cubicle—problem solved, he can book online with ZocDoc.

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New Gadget Helps Manage Disease

According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million people in the United States have diabetes.  I have experienced Type 2 diabetes in my own family and understand the challenges it can present.  In addition to potentially causing serious medical conditions such as heart disease, blindness and kidney disease, diabetes has a tremendous impact on lifestyle.  Type 2 diabetes requires constant management of what you eat, how much you exercise, what medications you take, and how these components affect your blood sugar levels throughout the day.

Many patients are ill-equipped to take charge of their healthcare and manage diabetes in a way that is convenient or useful to caregivers.  I have witnessed my family member write glucose levels in her planner, on post-it notes, napkins, or really anything she can find.  What is the point of tracking her glucose if she cannot see trends or patterns related to diet and exercise?

This video shows a product review for a new product from iHealth.  The Smart GlucoMeter enables patients to test their blood sugar with their phone.  The dongle snaps into an iPhone or iPad where you input your glucose testing strip and the app does the rest!

I am really impressed with this technology because it will enable patients to better manage their chronic illness.  Think about how much more productive a patient’s appointment with their endocrinologist!  You would be able to look at trends since your last appointment and seamlessly track vital health information.  Bravo iHealth—the Empowering Patients with Technology blog is waiting with you for FDA approval in the next few months!

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Welcome to the Empowering Patients with Technology Blog!

This blog will delve into the world of consumer-driven healthcare to specifically address patients’ use of technology and how it can help them take charge of their care.

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