Remote Healthcare Monitors In The Works

In an article  for Health Futures Digest, David Ellis reports on the following remote monitoring devices, among other advances of computing, materials and implants, developed for better healthcare:

Digestible Computer

Silicon Valley start-up company Proteus Biomedical is testing a digestible chip that can be attached to pills, reports Don Clark for the Wall Street Journal. A wireless sensing device worn on the skin informs the remote doctor’s cell phone that the patient has taken the pill at the prescribed dosage (or not), and transmits the patient’s current vital signs. The doctor can then intervene if there appear to be problems.

Wearable Wireless Vital Signs Monitor

San Diego start-up Triage Wireless is testing a wearable device for wirelessly measuring vital signs, including continuous blood pressure readings, in hospitalized patients. Corventis has a Band-Aid-style sensor called PiiX that monitors respiration, fluid status, physical movement, and other signs in ambulatory patients.

 Heart Monitoring Patch

 Corventis’ wireless sensor patch, approved by the FDA and put on the market early this year, monitors heart and respiration rate, patient activity level, fluid accumulation in the lungs, and other vital signs. It sends the data in a continuous stream to servers that process it and can alert a doctor if the patient shows early signs of heart failure. It has been estimated that such prediction would save US$20 billion annually in hospitalization costs. The device is also being tested to diagnose sleep apnea through changes in respiration and blood oxygen levels.

A second device under development will monitor heart-rhythm disturbances to detect subtle changes in heart patterns suggestive of arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation. A company executive told Technology Review’s David Talbot: “Someday, this will give the ability to transform one’s home into an [intensive-care unit], with continuous vital-sign measurements. There is a lot going on here, and there is the potential that it will transform health care.”

It’s not just start-ups: Intel is working on devices to monitor senior citizens at home, including a sensor-laden “magic carpet” that tracks how a patient moves and thereby helps prevent falls.

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