STORRS, Conn. – Engineers at the University of Connecticut have developed a biodegradable pressure sensor that could help doctors monitor chronic lung disease, swelling of the brain and other medical conditions before dissolving harmlessly in a patient’s body. The research was reported in a recent issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The small flexible sensor has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in surgical sutures, bone grafts and medical implants and was designed to replace existing implantable pressure sensors that have potentially toxic components and must be removed after use. The researchers said other potential applications include monitoring patients with heart disease, bladder cancer and glaucoma. “We knew that if we could develop a sensor that didn’t require surgery to take it out, that would be really significant,” said Thanh Duc Nguyen, the paper’s senior author. The new sensor is capable of capturing a wide range of physiological pressures, such as those found in the brain, behind the eye and in the abdomen, and can be used in its current form to help patients avoid invasive sensor-removal surgery.
BOSTON – Vital USA has teamed up with Partners Connected Health Care on a clinical trial to validate Vital’s 5-in-1 integrated vital sign monitoring platform. Paired with a smartphone, the Vital Moto Mod platform works with the Vital app to measure, monitor and track heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, non-contact core body temperature and blood pressure, all within three minutes. “We have learned that frictionless technologies for biometric data collection from patients is key in fostering their engagement with digital products,” said Dr. Kamal Jethwani, senior director at Partners Connected Health Innovation, in a statement. “This product streamlines the vitals measurement process, replacing five discreet devices with one, and we are going to validate that this product is changing digital vitals collection from patients.” Using light and pressure sensors, Vital’s proprietary finger cuff measures systolic and diastolic blood pressure from the finger. The system captures user data wirelessly and uploads the data via Bluetooth to the cloud securely. “This is really the next frontier for personal wellness,” said Dr. Mark Blatt, chief medical officer at Vital USA, in a statement. “By providing the consumer with a simple way to measure and monitor the five critical vital health signs, they are empowered to take control, and keep an eye on their own overall health and wellness.”
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – toSense has received a second clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the CoVa wearable patient-monitoring system for patients with congestive heart failure, chronic illness and those who have been recently discharged from the hospital. “CoVa is transformational in delivering high-acuity monitoring outside of the hospital,” said Matt Banet, president and chief scientific officer of toSense, in a statement. “The system gives clinicians remote access to important, actionable data.” Worn like a conventional necklace for just minutes each day, CoVa 2 measures bioimpedance and ECG waveforms, and calculates vital signs and hemodynamic parameters.
ITHACA, NY – Scientists at Cornell University have developed a method for gathering vital signs with “tag” devices that use radar-like technology.
“If this is an emergency room, everybody that comes in can wear these tags or can simply put tags in their front pockets, and everybody’s vital signs can be monitored at the same time,” said Edwin Kan, who developed the tag system, in a statement. “I’ll know exactly which person each of the vital signs belongs to.”
The system of radio-frequency signals and microchip tags can gather blood pressure, heart rate and breath rate by emitting radio waves that bounce off the body and internal organs and are then detected by an electronic reader that gathers the data from a location elsewhere in the room.
Kan said the system works like radar but integrates near-field coherent sensing, which is better at directing electromagnetic signals into body tissue, allowing the tags to measure internal body movement such as a heart as it beats or blood as it pulses under skin. Because each tag has a unique identification code it transmits with its signal, up to 200 people can be monitored simultaneously using just one central reader.
The signal is as accurate as an electrocardiogram or a blood-pressure cuff and could also be used to measure bowel movement, eye movement and other internal mechanical motions produced by the body, Kan said.
Kan’s research team is also working with Cornell’s Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design, who have demonstrated a way to embroider the tags directly onto clothing using fibers coated with nanoparticles.
STANFORD, Calif. – A network of sensors, screens and smart devices being developed at labs around the world will extend the reach of caregivers and enable more people to manage their health at home, according to a researcher from Stanford University.
“We see this ecosystem as enabling a doctor to have continuous monitoring of a patient,” said Bryant Chu, a member of the design group in Stanford’s mechanical engineering department, where research is being done on the components that make up the bodyNET system, a four-layer ecosystem of components that includes devices and sensors that are implantable, dermal, incorporated into clothing and worn externally.
The bodyNET system’s core technology is made of electronics that can stretch and feel more like the human touch and can enable health professionals to see how a patient is feeling in real-time. The “elastronics” technology allows patients to interact with digitally networked devices and makes raw data from wearable devices more useful, Chu said.
While the idea of the bodyNET system may seem far-reaching, Chu thinks it’s something that could be a reality within the next 20 years. Before that happens, though, testing of the separate components will need to happen in controlled settings and industry concerns about privacy and security will need to be allayed, he said.
“We see a system like bodyNET as humanizing the technology rather than technology replacing us,” Chu said. “The idea of humans and technology coming together can be scary, but with a slight reframe of perspective, there’s an excitement about what could exist.”
HOUMA, La. – Objective Medical Systems has launched a cloud platform that allows real-time monitoring of patients with chronic cardiac conditions. “This advanced technology gives physicians a way to manage fragile patients with chronic diseases like heart failure stay healthy and reduce hospital admissions,” said Joseph Brunet, vice president of clinical affairs at OMS, in a statement. The OMS-3 platform aggregates patient data across digital remote monitoring devices, labs, electronic health records and cardiovascular diagnostic reporting modalities. It also features a cardiology-practice-specific user interface design, which presents data relevant to the diseases being managed, and incorporates video and text. “Physicians get notified if patients are trending toward an unfavorable outcome based on clinical variables which are remotely acquired in addition to a real-time remote interview with the patient,” said Dr. Vinod Nair, president and chief software architect of OMS. “This platform becomes a force multiplier in delivering higher quality patient outcomes.”
‘We want to continue to grow, but not too fast’
LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y. – Tunstall Healthcare Group is continuing its expansion across the U.S. with the recent acquisition of Oregon-based Providence Lifeline Medical Alert Service.
“We hadn’t done a lot of expansion in the West and we wanted to start filling in geographically,” said Ryan Fix, vice president and general manager of Tunstall Americas. “We knew Providence would be a great partner for us.”
Tunstall Americas provides nationwide 24/7 connected health care monitoring services from multiple call centers. The company also manufacturers connected care and connected health products like PERS devices, telehealth and medication management products.
Fix said choosing Providence as a West coast anchor was a two-year process for Tunstall Americas, and marks its largest acquisition since it purchased New York-based American Medical Alert Corp. in 2011.
“What clicked for us was Providence’s mission as it related to customers and service,” he said. “We’ve spent the past 12 months with a deeper focus on company culture being front and center.”
Providence Lifeline Medical Alert, a service line of Providence Health & Services, which is part of Providence St. Joseph Health, provides access to emergency care around-the-clock to thousands of subscribers through wearable devices and wireless communication base units. As part of the acquisition, all Providence Lifeline Medical Alert employees who were part of the service’s business lines were offered employment with Tunstall Americas.
For now, Tunstall Americas will continue to consider additional acquisitions and is looking to expand into other markets.
“We’re comfortable with our services right now so we’ll consider strategic opportunities where they come, while being able to maintain our call centers,” Fix said. “We want to continue to grow, but not too fast.”
WALTHAM, Mass. – EarlySense has upgraded its EarlySense Live contact free health monitor to include several new features including a health dashboard, immediate assistance with AmericanWell, activity tracking and the ability to share collected data with caregivers or family members “With this newest app update, we are continuing to fulfill our promise to the connected health industry by empowering users, helping improve quality of life, and encouraging behaviors that lead to a healthier lifestyle,” said Avner Halperin, CEO of EarlySense, in a statement. Launched earlier this year, EarlySense Live provides consumers with access to hospital-proven sensor technology that utilizes artificial intelligence and analytics to give users the clearest possible depiction of their health. The device slips under a mattress and connects using Bluetooth to provide real-time updates to a smartphone app.
ATLANTA – Intent Solutions has named Paul Quiner as chief strategy officer. “Intent Solutions’ laser focus is on a critical aspect of healthcare: the ability to ensure the right dose was dispensed to the right patient at the right time,” said Quiner in a statement. “This is powerful, and can have a positive impact on healthcare outcomes as well as clinical research.” In his new role, Quiner will focus on the monitoring and adherence technology company’s overall strategy.
How to deliver more care to larger populations with fewer resources
SAN DIEGO – As CEO of GreatCall, a trailblazer in connected health devices and services for aging adults, David Inns has been surrounded by a dizzying number of advances in home health care technology over the past decade—and he’s ready for what’s coming next.
HHTN: How are technologies like sensors, predictive analytics and connected health devices impacting the way home health care is delivered today?
INNS: For home health providers who are interested in taking on risk-based contracts, they have demonstrated the ability to reduce costs associated with hospitalization, emergency room trips, skilled nursing and long-term care.
HHTN: How can health care providers use the data from these technologies to produce actionable insights for patients?
INNS: Remote ADL (activities of daily living) monitoring provides a holistic view of a senior’s behavior, and changes in that behavior are often an indicator that something deeper is going on. A senior who is significantly changing their activity— for example, spending less time in bed and opening the refrigerator more at night—may benefit from some extra clinical attention. Remote monitoring technologies identify “at-risk” seniors at critical moments in time and enable timely medical intervention or medication reconciliation.
HHTN: Why are measurable results important in health care?
INNS: Measurement can help quantify theories about the value of remote monitoring services and other ADLs. Without measurement, organizations are poorly equipped to monitor and, ultimately, improve the quality of their care. More broadly, measurement also helps assess health care use and costs among patients and determine specific factors or interventions that result in care improvements.
HHTN: What are some of the biggest obstacles in preventing these technologies from being fully embraced by home health care professionals?
INNS: Most technology companies focus exclusively on the product. However, seniors living independently need an exceptional level of service wrapped around that technology. They need access to real human beings who understand the limitations of seniors, and that service needs to be seamlessly integrated into the technology stack. To the senior, the hardware, software and service should provide a single experience that lets the senior experience the benefit of the product without fear.
HHTN: How can companies ease the adoption of these technologies by providers?
INNS: Companies that are providing solutions to health care providers need to understand that providers are typically very protective of their main asset: time. They don’t have bandwidth for setup videos, debugging phone calls or battery replacements—they just want access to the benefit. As such, products are typically better packaged as services. Those services should be reflective of, and integrated with, regular existing workflows.
HHTN: How do you see home health care changing in the next five years?
INNS: As the senior population continues to grow, home health care providers will continue to feel pressure to deliver more care to larger populations with fewer resources. Technology will be a key enabler to allow that staff to provide the right care to the right person at the right time. Sensors and remote patient monitoring will be a key component to making that transition successfully.