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Sensor Monitors Patients' Health in the Cloud

Sensor Monitors Patients' Health in the Cloud

A UK-based startup has designed a new device that connects to a cloud-based system to allow a patient's condition to be monitored wirelessly by clinicians even when they are not in a hospital or doctor's office.

The LifeTouch sensor device is part of Isansys Lifecare Ltd.'s Patient Status Engine, which integrates a wireless sensor worn by a patient with a cloud-based electronic health records (EHR) back end to keep the patient's records updated in real-time with vital-sign data to help doctors and other clinicians stay up-to-date about their condition. The system supports the company's Vitals-as-a-Service solution, part of a healthcare IT trend to improve EHR systems not only to maintain accurate patient records, but also to predict and/or prevent illness by tracking patient health status.

Healthcare practitioners believe that with better, real-time access to outpatient data, they might spot abnormalities or potential illnesses in advance in time to treat them before they have progressed too far, according to Isansys.

The LifeTouch device -- which is about eight inches by two inches -- is made of medical-grade elastic polymer materials and shaped like a doctor's tongue depressor but with a circular bottom end. Attached by two adhesive ECG gel electrodes, it's typically worn on a patient's chest. Patients can also wear more than one device depending on what is being monitored, Isansys spokeswoman Nicky Denovan told us.

The device has a single sensor that continuously collects data on five physical vital signs: heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, pulse oximetry, and temperature. The system also analyzes a person's ECG signals to provide information on any variables in their heart rate. The Patient Status Engine is also is modular: Clinicians can add other sensors, such as accelerometers, weight scales, and blood glucose sensors, to monitor other patient health factors as they apply to a particular condition.

The device sensors are networked and transmit data from a patient via a gateway and LAN or WAN back to a cloud-based EHR system, where it provides dynamic charting. Tolven Corp. and Fujitsu collaborated to provide the open-source-based EHR system in the cloud, which leverages Java, AJAX, EJB3, and other technologies for portability across multiple healthcare systems.

The information received by the system can also be aggregated and used in other applications that clinicians access in doctor's offices and hospitals to keep track of patient status, according to Isansys. Such an app, for example, could be a predictive early warning scores algorithm that can provide insight into a patient's future health risk.

Isansys is beta testing the LifeTouch devices with about 20 patients in the Netherlands as part of a preliminary trial, and beta deployment will soon start in hospitals in London and Hyderabad, India.

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