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When the Ingestion Event Marker (IEM) - a sensor the size of a sand particle - is swallowed with pills or other medications (or manufactured into them), it interacts with stomach fluid to send a signal confirming ingestion.
A patch on the patient's skin collects this information as well as other measurements like heart rate, body position and level of activity, explained the device's maker, California-based Proteus Digital Health, in a statement earlier this week.
The information is made available to doctors (with the patient's consent), who can use it to gauge how well patients are sticking to and responding to treatment.
One doctor thinks this is the future of medicine.
"Directly digitizing pills, for the first time, in conjunction with our wireless infrastructure, may prove to be the new standard for influencing medication adherence and significantly aid chronic disease management," Eric Topol, of the Scripps Research Institute, said in the statement.
Proteus said the device has already received approval in Europe.