A manufacturer called Vital Connect is working on a smart band-aid like device that has the potential to diagnose a heart problem, sometimes weeks in advance, before serious problems begin.
Heart failure is responsible for most of the preventable hospital readmissions in the US. A quarter of the 5.1 million people afflicted annually end up back in care within thirty days of discharge. Vital Connect is aiming to help change this.
BeVITAL is a thin, disposable patch which weighs only 11g (4oz). The device keeps tabs on heart rate activity, breathing rate, temperature, physical movement, posture and can even alert the doctor if a patient falls. An impressive list which is possible thanks to tiny ECG electrodes, a 3-axis MEMS accelerometer, and a temperature-sensing Thermistor, as well as the close proximity to the body of the device.
The patch can stream vital signs via Bluetooth to a digital platform stored in the cloud. Doctors can then tap into this information, and patients can track their own health, as well as share their challenges with others. The device is a single-use patch with a battery life of 3 days with the ECG sensor switched on, or 4 without it.
Product manager at Vital Connect, Valeska Schroeder told Quartz that the system has been tested with about 100 patients at five hospitals in Europe, and will arrive at the John Muir medical center in Walnut Creek, California, this summer. The post-discharge heart patient trial at John Muir is intended to compare data quality and patient outcomes with on-site hospital care. Schroeder hopes the trial will earn BeVITAL regulatory clearance to roll out to millions of new patients.
We have seen a number of band-aid like wearables over the past year or so, such as a drug-dispensing skin patch that detects glucose levels. With the cost of healtcare spiraling and an ageing population to go with it, the rise of wearables that diagnose conditions before they become critical will grow ever more important.
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