Keep taking the pills

Chip sends message to patient's smartphone

Patients who forget to take their medications or do not take them correctly constitute a dangerous and expensive problem in healthcare. A chip that keeps track of when a pill is removed from the packaging resolves that problem. This innovation received the 2013 Herman Wijffels Innovation Award in the Health and Welfare category.

A chip that registers the conditions under which medications are stored and that knows when a patient has forgotten to take a pill. This is the brainchild of Jos Geboers of ECCT engineering firm in Veldhoven, The Netherlands. He also came up with the idea of using smartphones for this purpose.

Smartphone

'Not following a course of treatment properly can worsen or prolong the disease process,' he explains. 'The effectiveness of medications is reduced if they are not stored at the correct temperature. This is particularly important with medications that are extremely temperature-sensitive, such as organic medications. So if the temperature is not suitable, the patient receives a message on his or her smartphone. And a message is also sent if the patient forgets to take a pill.'

‘The pharmacy can proceed to prepare the repeat prescription when a patient is about to run out of medication.’

Jos Geboers, ingenieursbureau ECCT

Major cost-savings

Geboers says it is also possible to link more services to the chip. 'A smartphone is connected to the internet and can make contact with the physician's and the pharmacy's computer. The physician can be sent an alert in the event of serious abnormalities. The pharmacy can proceed to prepare the repeat prescription when a patient is about to run out of medication. The information in the patient information leaflet can also be adapted for each client and can be provided in the patient's native language. And if medications are left over after the course of treatment, the chip makes it possible for the pharmacy to see whether they have been stored properly at all times and can consequently be reused. This could lead to more than 100 million in euros in savings annually in the Netherlands alone.'

More innovation

Rabobank is participating in various ways to make healthcare accessible, affordable and high quality. The expansion of the Herman Wijffels Innovation Award in 2013 to include an award for the Health and Welfare category is an example of this commitment. ECCT in Veldhoven is the first winner of the award in this new category. Rabobank also helped conduct various studies, such as Diagnosis 2025, Diagnosis Diabetes and the Diagnose Zorginnovatie (Diagnosis Healthcare Innovation) book that was published last year. The book puts forward a case for greater innovativeness in healthcare in the Netherlands.

The ‘pill chip’ can help save 100 million euros.

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