Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

Reading the disturbing news in McKnight’s about the ingestible digital antipsychotic pill that tracks patient data has me all befuddled. I wish I could swallow a pill that would tell me how to feel about it, and what it means for the future of our society and world.

But here’s how the technology apparently works, to the best of my feeble and uninformed understanding: First, you place the pill in the palm of your hand. Next, tip your head back and wash it down like you would any other medication — with a shot of cheap Scotch. Nicely done. Good job.

(Quick aside, the pill itself is an antipsychotic called Abilify MyCite, and were I the patient, I’d be all riled up before I even swallowed it. As a former English major, I can tell you that Abilify is not a real word even though it sounds like one, and that MyCite makes no sense at all. Playing so fast and loose with my native language will just make my agitation worse, and now you’ll have to increase the dosage of this crazy medication to make up for its ridiculous name, which is going to make your antipsychotic reduction initiative numbers look bad. So think carefully before embracing this technology in your facility, especially if your census is heavily skewed to liberal arts graduates.)

Anyway, now the fun starts. Using its special imbedded ingestible sensor made of several frightening ingredients that sound poisonous and radioactive, the pill sends data to a wearable patch. Personally, I would choose to stick it to my forehead, just as a signal to people that there’s a really smart pill inside me that can hear what they say and is writing it down. Or I would just skip myself entirely, and attach the patch directly to my attorney, for when the inevitable future lawsuit is filed.

The invaluable information gleaned by the smarty-pants pill will then be transmitted from the patch to a smart phone mobile app, from which you can send it to your doctor, caregiver, priest or therapist. “Hi, I am Joe’s pill,” the report will read. “I am currently inside him, moving slowly north/southeast at a rate of one meter per hour. Click here for Google street images, or to order a Frappuccino. I’m sure there’s a Starbucks around here somewhere. Oh look, there’s George Orwell’s house!”

I don’t really know what this digital pill is supposed to do, beyond telling someone you took it, so I really don’t know whether it’s an idea that will catch on. Now, if there was a pill that could let women know where in the world Matt Lauer’s hands are, whether Al Franken is near you while you sleep, or whether Roy Moore is approaching the mall, that might be an even better use of science and technology.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He has amused, informed and sometimes befuddled long-term care readers worldwide since his debut with the former at the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.