From September, Lloydspharmacy will offer "intelligent" medications that enable patients and their doctors and carers to track whether the drugs have been taken as directed.
The firm has teamed up with US company Proetus Biomedical to commercialise and launch Helius, a digital health product which helps monitor when patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart conditions have taken their medications, and also provides a range of other information on the patient, such as their sleep patterns and levels of physical activity.
Helius combines sensor-enabled tablets, a sensor patch worn on the body, a mobile health application and information service and Lloydspharmacy's current medication adherence packaging. The data obtained by the system is then combined to provide information to allow the patient, carer or family member to follow progress and collaborate on maintaining the patient’s wellness and enable them to remain independent in their own homes.
Helius, which is Proteus' first commercial product, "has been designed to provide assurance and peace of mind to individuals struggling with complex medication regimens and health issues and to connect these individuals to the family, friends and professionals caring for them," says the firm.
Steve Gray, healthcare services director at Lloydspharmacy, describes the Helius system as "an exciting development which takes our current medication adherence offering to a whole new level."
"There is a huge problem with medicines not being taken correctly. Anyone taking several medicines knows how easy it can be to lose track of whether or not you've taken the correct tablets that day. Add to that complex health issues and families caring for loved ones who may not live with them and you can appreciate the benefits of an information service that helps patients get the most from their treatments and for families to help them remain well," said Mr Gray.
Proteus and and Lloydspharmacy "share a common view of how advancements in technology can be captured to improve the well-being of patients struggling with complex medication regimes and health issues," added Andrew Thompson, chief executive at Proteus.
The companies point out that 50% of patients fail to take their medicines correctly, according to estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO), and that this can result in patients not gaining the full benefit of their treatment, or worse, being at risk of harmful reactions. Moreover, unused prescription medicine is estimated to cost the NHS in the UK around £396 million a year.
Initially, Lloydspharmacy will be offering Helius privately to customers through selected pharmacies, for around £50 a month, but Mr Gray is reported as saying that a number of NHS organisations have also expressed interest in the system.