Ingestible sensor adopted in NHS innovation push

Digital health specialist Proteus has signed a deal that will see its ‘smart pill’ technology, used to track medicine use and monitor patient responses, rolled out at hospitals in the north west of England.

Proteus’ technology relies on the use of an ingestible sensor that is swallowed alongside a tablet and can communicate a range of information to the physician, including medication-taking behaviours and other variables such as a patient’s physical activity and sleep patterns.

Alongside the smart pill, Proteus has also developed an adhesive patch which is worn on the patient’s skin and communicates with the sensor, as well as associated smartphone apps and a cloud computing framework.

The North West Coast Academic Health Science Network (NWC AHSN) – one of 15 consortia set up to encourage the adoption of innovative products in the NHS organisations – has now appointed a dedicated project manager to help Proteus make contact with healthcare organisations across the region.

“This sort of breakthrough technology has a very important role to play in the future of healthcare – helping to create real operational efficiencies and enabling people to take a proactive approach to managing their healthcare,” said NWC AHSN chief executive Liz Mear.

Pointing out that around 50 per cent of the medicine prescribed in the UK is not taken correctly, Mear said that Proteus’ technology ” has the potential to massively reform the way we prescribe medication for both common and more serious conditions and create a new, much more efficient and effective way of monitoring treatment.”

The Proteus system is already being used at 15 locations across the UK, including the Pendle View Medical Centre in Lancashire, and the company’s UK general manager Julian Bradwell said a key focus of the latest initiative will be to show “value to patients and providers in the treatment of hypertension and related comorbidities such as diabetes.”

Trials of Proteus’ system have already started at several other organisations in the UK, including the Eastern Academic Health Science Network (EAHSN), The Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) and Oxford University, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust and Oxford Academic Health Science Network (OAHSN).

In fact, the UK has now become a key market for the privately-held US company, prompting it to start setting up a dedicated manufacturing plant earlier this year that when completed will employ around 200 people and have the capacity to pump out billions of units a year.

Proteus chief executive Andrew Thompson said at the time he expected the UK to serve as a launching pad for a wider roll-out of its system across Europe and – backed by a whopping $177m fund-raising in the summer and an ongoing collaboration with Novartis – the company now seems to be gaining traction in the EU.

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