A smartphone-enabled journey toward a healthier future

Posted by Preeta Banerjee on January 06, 2017

Most of us love traveling. What about a journey inside the human body? Movies such as “Fantastic Voyage,” where shrinking to microscopic size allows humans to enter a patient’s body to save his life, may still be in the realm of science fiction, but to some extent, the vision has been realized via modern endoscopic techniques. Technology to monitor the body from inside and to deliver medicine to the exact spot of the disease or injury might change the way illnesses are prevented and cured in future.

Smart pills are being touted as the frontrunners of such technology. Typically, smart pills are ingestible sensors that enable wireless health monitoring and treatment of patients. For instance, Proteus’s smart pill generates electricity when it comes in contact with electrolytes (body fluids), which then enables the chip to transmit vital statistics to the smartphone via Bluetooth. In another example, a “camera pill” developed by researchers at Melbourne’s RMIT University can capture and send gastrointestinal data to patients’ smartphones in real time, helping cure digestive disorders.

While still in the experimental phase, smart pills could be highly relevant for patients suffering from chronic ailments. They could help patients make sure they take the medication, in the correct dosage, thus hastening recovery. However, smart pills can’t analyze the data they transmit, and that is where smartphones might play a role. Smartphones can interconnect with smart pills to analyze the recorded data and provide meaningful information which can be sent to the doctor for further analysis. Hence, in combination with smartphones, smart pills could pave the way for personalized health care in the future. Imagine a scenario where you have access to real-time data on how your body reacts to different types of foods. This could drastically affect the choices consumers make about eating a certain type of food, quantity and the time of the day they eat.

In the future, through their “smart journey” inside the human body, smart pills might help in bringing down the number of invasive procedures like colonoscopy. Though intriguing, ingestible sensors are just one of the many emerging personalized health technologies being powered by smartphones. Fitness bands, health apps, and remote consultations are some of the others. Want to know more about how smartphone will act as an intelligent hub for our health care needs? Read our article Your personalized technology hub: Interconnectivity, intelligence, and identity in tomorrow’s smartphones. The article examines smartphones’ role—both present and future—as a personalized technology hub.

This blog was first published in the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.

Preeta Banerjee, I lead cross-sector research and thought leadership development for Deloitte’s US Technology, Media & entertainment and Telecommunications (TMT) practice with a focus on eminence themes of Growth & Innovation. I am passionate about strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship. While spending 13 years in academia, received a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar Grant 2012-13, the Apsen Institute Rising Star Finalist 2011,the IBM Innovation Award 2010-2011 and one of the recipients of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Advanced Technology Program Award 2008-2009. I have published over 40 academic journal articles, book chapters, and invited publications. Most recently, I taught undergraduates and graduates courses in Managing Technology and Innovation, Emerging Market Strategy, Business and the Environment, and Knowledge Management. I received my Ph.D. from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.and B.S. in Computational Biology and Business Administration from the Mellon College of Science and the Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University.

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