Good Example of Digtal Health Tech? A Pill Camera

The PillCam Colon is described as a kinder, gentler approach to one of the most dreaded exams : the Colonoscopy.

For sure. A tiny camera tucked inside an easy to swallow capsule instead of a lot of “cringe inducing” probing of the large intestine using a 4-foot flexible tube. This is indeed good news.

Given Imaging-FDA ApprovalThe PillCam Colon is the first capsule cam approved for imaging the human colon. But the “PillCam” is also a great example  of how Digital Health Tech is and will even more significantly in the future, Make a Difference to Health Care for us and our Health Care Dollars

Last month U.S. regulators (the FDA) cleared the way for a bite-size ingestible pill camera to help doctors spot polyps or other early signs of colon cancer.  It has already been approved in 80 other countries, including in Japan, Europe and Latin America.

Given Imaging (GIVN)  is the Israeli company that has developed the technology which they suggest works somewhat like a missile defense systems works; but the PillCam is a battery-powered camera which takes high-speed photos while slowly winding its way through the intestinal tract over a period of some 8 hours.  Images are automatically transmitted by way of a recording device worn around the patient’s waist & then reviewed later by a doctor.


However, given that images are not quite as clear yet using the PillCam , this technology is being restricted for now to only those  patients who have trouble undergoing standard colonoscopies. I would have thought this meant everyone but by that they mean restrictions due to anatomy issues or previous surgeries or colon disease where a patient is unable to get a complete colonosopy;  which is still some 750,000 or so U.S. patients. So, the PillCam will indeed make a Big Difference to this segment of the population.

As technology improves, those restrictions are likely to change for the benefit of patients but also the health care system as the cost of the PillCam is approximately $500, which is significantly less than the estimated $4,000 rate for a traditional colonoscopy. The PillCam also has the potential to entice those adults who have avoided regular screenings due to fears of pain, embarrassment and general discomfort. So, that’s Good News as well.

PS;  No word on Canada yet. So don’t put off having the recommended regular colonoscopy which should begin at age 50 and continue annually until you are 75.

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