Edible technology the next wearable technology?

Read on and watch the video http://uk.news.yahoo.com/nhs-set-trial-edible-health-sensors-010913063.html#slTn5aV

Read on and watch the video http://uk.news.yahoo.com/nhs-set-trial-edible-health-sensors-010913063.html#slTn5aV

"Edible sensors that can tell your doctor if you have taken your medication are a step closer to being used on the NHS.

After a small trial in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, it has been announced that one of the biggest NHS acute teaching trusts has signed up to test a digital sensor the size of a poppy seed.

The sensor is made of copper and magnesium, which are digestable, and a small bit of silicon.

When swallowed with prescription medicine, the metals react with the patient's stomach fluid and power the sensor.

The sensor then sends a message to a patch on the abdomen, recording the time the medication was taken.

The patch also records heart rate and if the user was walking, sitting or lying down when the pill was taken.

It uses wireless technology to send the data to a digital device belonging to a doctor, carer or even a family member.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust has partnered with American company Proteus Digital Health to test the device.

Dr Peter Godbehere has used this technology in East Anglia as part of a trial for hypertension.

He said: "We've never been able to show, for sure, how regularly patients have been taking medication and this is a big thing for us.

"People quote figures of around 40% or more of treatments that aren't taken to how we prescribe them.

"If we had these sensors in all the regular medication, I know it seems a bit big brother, but we can be sure that people are taking products in the best way."

Two other organisations - The Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) and Eastern Adacemic Health Science Network (EAHSN) - have also signed up for the trial.

The technology is in the early stages of use in the UK but it is hoped it could save NHS England money through better-targeted treatment.

Dr. Godbehere said he sees most potential with illnesses like Alzheimers and heart disease where people take pills everyday.

Any patterns spotted could be used in the emerging field of predictive medicine.

However the head of healthcare at the Technology Strategy Board - an arm's length public body that aims to support business innovation - warns cost won't be the only consideration ahead of a potential roll-out across all of NHS England.

Zahid Latif said: "People get very hung-up about data. If data's being generated about their healthcare, that is different to data being pushed out from their Fitbit or their Nike Fuelband.

"We've seen the debates recently about care.data and people are sensitive about how that data is being shared and used."

The controversial care.data database has been delayed by six months primarily because the public wasn't informed properly about the roll-out. 

There has also been criticism it could lead to privacy problems and data breaches but NHS England say they are working on informing people about what safeguards are in place."