Joseph Swedish has joined the board of directors of Proteus Digital Health, maker of a system and sensors for digitally trackable pills.
Proteus has raised about $400 million. Swedish will be on the board during a period of growth at the company, as it works to gain "more patients, more products, and more partners," said Proteus CEO and co-founder Andrew Thompson. "We will develop and build more products ourselves and with partners, which means we'll have more pharmaceutical companies embracing this idea."
Thompson tapped Swedish for the board post in part because of his deep experience in healthcare. Swedish has spent decades in the industry. Recently, from 2013 to 2017, he was CEO of Anthem. He remains executive chairman of the health insurer, the nation's second largest. He'll retire from the post in May 2018, though he'll stay on as a senior adviser until May 2020.
"Proteus can do for medicine what Amazon did for digital retail and what Tesla is doing for the auto industry," Swedish said. "Proteus has the potential to have that kind of impact in the pharmaceutical administration industry. I'm not one to exaggerate."
Proteus sensors are used in Abilify Mycite, the first FDA-approved digital pill. The sensors are part of a drug-tracking system, Proteus Discover, that also includes a wearable sensor patch, a mobile app, and a provider portal. When a patient takes a pill, stomach acid initiates the sensor, which signals via Bluetooth to the patch that it's been activated.
Estimates put the cost of medication noncompliance at almost $300 billion annually. "If Proteus can put a dent in that, it's going to significantly improve the outcomes associated with administering medications," Swedish said. "As a former payer, what excites me is that it has the clear potential to be a driver and have great influence on the creation of value-based payer contracts that can be verifiable."
Before joining Anthem, Swedish was CEO of Livonia, Mich.-based Catholic hospital system Trinity Health. Swedish currently serves on the boards of IBM and IT products and services company CDW.
"He has a deep understanding of what it's like to deliver care and what it's like to pay for it," Thompson said. "He is one of the most influential and capable people you could possibly wish for on a board."