A growing number of medical practitioners however, are viewing the technology in a new light – in its potential to improve care in and around hospitals. Wearable technology of the future enables doctors to monitor the vitals of both hospitalised patients and those recently discharged, less invasively.
“They’re being validated,” says Dr Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in California, America, “not just if they measure data accurately; but if they help people, with improved outcomes and at hopefully remarkably lower costs.”
Although there will be concerns with privacy and patient’s trust in non-human care, below are five examples that highlight the power of wearable technology in healthcare delivery.
#1. Vest for heart failure
The first of such devices is the SensiVest. Created by cardiologists at the Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital in Ohio, America, it is hoped that it will warn doctors of when previous patients of heart failure have worsening symptoms.
Based on military technology, the vest measures the level of fluid in patients’ lungs and sends the information to doctor’s computers within 90 seconds. Should there be a noticeable increase in the lung fluid, doctors can then adjust medication for the patient before it becomes an emergency.
“It prevents re-admissions for patients,” Dr Rami Kahwash, one of the doctors testing the vests said. “That can save health care costs for hospitals,” he added.
The vest is currently undergoing clinical trials.
#2. Wristband that detects seizures
Next on the list is a wristband that is capable of detecting seizures in patients suffering from epilepsy. Called Embrace, the device, designed like a watch, monitors the body’s stress signals.
Once a seizure hits, the device vibrates and if it is not switched off by the user it sends a message to a trusted friend or caregiver, via an app. It was designed by Rosalind Picard, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is currently only available in Europe.
#3. Patch for patients outside the hospital
At Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, America, the chief of electrophysiology, Dr Nicholas Skipitaris, wanted to be able to monitor his patients’ vitals outside of the hospital.
Through a small, wearable patch called the Cor, Skipitaris hopes to track patient heart rate. Additionally, those working on the device are designing it to be able to measure body temperature and blood pressure wirelessly, too.
“It’s untethered the patient,” Skipitaris said. “And recognising a small problem before it becomes big can reduce hospitalisation – you can take a more preventive approach.”
#4. Monitoring device for bedridden patients
However, other doctors are keen to measure the vitals of those patients who are already hospitalised. The LIVE device can measure sleep patterns, heart rate, breathing, movement and other stress factors of bedridden patients.
A piezoelectric sensor disk plugs into an outlet and slides under a patient’s mattress and its readings can be viewed through a mobile application in the hands of caregivers and hospital workers.
Since the beginning of 2017, this device has now been made available to consumers outside of hospitals and clinical studies have found it to be 92.5% accurate.
#5. Device that detects high fever
Fever Scout aims to simply monitor body temperature but the body temperature of risk groups such as babies, young children, post-operative patients, cancer patients and senior citizens.
A flexible patch placed under the arm, it can measure temperature over time and share it doctors. If there is a cause for concern, it sends an alert to the caregiver or doctor’s smartphone. It is able to synchronise with smartphones within 25 to 30 feet of it, although a signal amplifier can increase this to 130 feet. MIMS
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