In August 2016, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline teamed with tech colossus Google to launch Galvani Bioelectronics, a company dedicated to developing implantable devices to monitor and modify electrical nerve signals for the treatment of illnesses. In February of this year, GE Ventures and Northwell Health announced a partnership to develop commercial solutions in bioelectronics medicine. If you wondered when the era of bioelectronic medicine would arrive, it’s already here.
The concept of bioelectronics is nothing new. Pacemakers, hearing aids, and medical imaging are just a few examples of electronics technology applied to medicine that have been with us for years. Advanced electronic health monitoring devices in development, however, seek to take medical treatment adherence and effectiveness to a whole new level.
Ingestion Event Marker (IEM), for example, is a sand particle-sized microchip that can be embedded in drugs to monitor patients' adherence and response to treatments. In 2012 it became the first digestible electronic device approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The IEM sensor communicates with a patch worn on the skin that marks the precise time the drug has been taken. Additional metrics collected include heart rate, body position, and activity. The patch relays information to a mobile phone application, and with the patient’s consent, the information is accessible by caregivers and clinicians.
Medical device implants offer another viable means to monitor health care. A new generation of these implants, measuring everything from blood glucose levels to chemotherapy effectiveness, could open up an array of monitoring options. BioStamp, for example, is an “electronic tattoo” equipped with sensors that could potentially allow for continuous monitoring of vital signs and transmit them via wireless technology.
Whether ingested, implanted, or injected, bioelectronic devices promise to transform modern medicine – and the information utilized in the underwriting of life and health insurance. Key considerations include:Read More +