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Consumer Peripherals

How Doctors Will Use Smartwatches to Increase Patient Care

16 November 2016

Doctors are busy –and juggling information and the immediate needs of each and every patient can be a difficult task for a human being to take on. That’s why researchers from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have been working on comprehensive monitoring systems to assist medical staff.

Researchers have come up with a way to link a smartwatch to the metabolic monitors used with patients in intensive care. If the sensors – which were developed at EPFL – detect an anomaly, the doctor on duty receives an alert anywhere in the hospital. (Image via EPFL)Researchers have come up with a way to link a smartwatch to the metabolic monitors used with patients in intensive care. If the sensors – which were developed at EPFL – detect an anomaly, the doctor on duty receives an alert anywhere in the hospital. (Image via EPFL)

A new aspect of the monitoring system involves the use of smartwatches that can link to the metabolic monitors that are used with patients in intensive care. If the sensors, which were developed at EPFL, detect an anomaly, the doctor on duty will receive an alert anywhere in the hospital.

The patients' readings would be monitored in real time and stored on a central server, so dangerous levels can be caught immediately and an alert sent directly to the doctor’s wrist via W-iFi. Information relayed would include the patient’s name and so that the doctor can react quickly and precisely.

This application is the second step in the comprehensive monitoring system developed by EPFL's Integrated Systems Laboratory (LSI). The system began with the creation of a miniaturized microfluidic device that allows medical staff to monitor patients’ critical blood levels. Biosensors were embedded into the device, along with an array of electronics to transmit the results in real time to a tablet via Bluetooth. The device monitors seven blood levels: glucose, lactate, bilirubin, sodium, calcium, temperature and pH.

Being able to send these readings to a portable device could make it easier to effectively monitor high-risk patients and allow doctors to receive the information they need at any time.

“We deliberately chose a standard smartwatch so that we could see what it was capable of,” said Francesca Stradolini, Doctoral Assistant at EPFL’s Integrated Systems Laboratory. "Since we can’t send a huge amount of data to it, we use a central server that can evaluate the information and send an urgent request for a medical response to whoever is in charge of the intensive care unit.”

The new smartwatch approach also frees up doctors and other medical staff so they can move freely around the hospital and work on other things while keeping close tabs on their patients.

How it works. (Image via EPFL)How it works. (Image via EPFL)

The device was presented this week at MobiHealth, the International Conference on Wireless Mobile Communication and Healthcare.



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