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Ingestible Pills and Other Futuristic Communications Challenges

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

ingestible sensor pillAdvances in applied medical technology are rapidly outdistancing the ability for doctors, hospitals and healthcare communicators to explain “what’s new” to the typical patient. This is more than health apps, consumer gadgets and wearable devices. The ongoing challenges for medical communicators include:

  • Being well versed about tech advances as they emerge
  • Recognizing and communicating the features, advantages and benefits
  • Appreciating positive and negative issues related to change and adoption
  • Leveraging technology as a positive distinction and differentiation
  • Presenting complex technology in easily understood, non-technical ways

Because patients are better informed and more involved in their health and medical decisions, many people are hungry for information. They want to know how applied technology that can benefit their care, speed recovery and result in a better/quicker outcome.

In many instances, it’s no longer futuristic. Healthcare technology is here and now.

The DaVinci surgical system is practically an old-timer: Remote controlled or robotic assisted surgery has been around awhile, the DaVinci brand (among others) has enjoyed a lot of publicity and public awareness. How do you communicate the concept of “a delicate surgical touch” in a multi-ton machine? Watch this demonstration video of surgery on a grape.

Robot doctors are making hospital rounds: The good news and the bad news is that the doctor will see you, but today, he’s a walking-talking robot. Both patients and doctors agree that a real-person, face-to-face encounter is best. But several companies produce devices that extend the physician’s ability to “make rounds” when time and distance is a challenge. This video news report illustrates some of the pros and cons.

Ingestible Technology works from the inside. Some patients may find the idea of ingestible devices a bit hard to swallow…at least figuratively. But as manufacturers have devised ways to shrink sensors medical science is able to monitor patient health from the inside. An extremely tiny sensor is embedded in a “ smart pill,” transmits data to an external monitor, and then stores the info online. Watch this video report about one such device.

Are you up on what’s next?

The explosion of wearable consumer devices—often extensions of everyone’s smartphone—are rapidly becoming more common…and paving the way for patient/public acceptance of what’s coming. Other medical-tech advances that are beginning to reach doctors and patients include, for example:

A “Pillcam” that is swallowed; to produce intestinal images; an alternative to colonoscopy.

A smart pill bottle to improve adherence to prescription regimen; lights up, buzzes, and sends text messages to remind users of pre-scheduled dosages.

Nano-sensors in the bloodstream to warn of signs of infection and cardiovascular issues.

This is a continuing story, and healthcare providers, health systems and communications professionals need to be watching the event horizon. The tech and medical device frontier needs the help of doctors and professional healthcare communicators to introduce and explain the benefits of science arriving in the doctor’s office.

Are you ready to tell a futuristic and fanciful story?

Steve Gregg

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