Wearable Health Monitor Untethers Patients from Monitors


By Samba Lampich

The hottest trend in fitness is not hot yoga or Crossfit but the emergence of wearable tech such as smart watches, health monitors, pedometers and activity trackers that keep you on track with your fitness goals.

Smaller and Liberating

Now the healthcare industry is taking a closer look at how similar technology could revolutionize patient care. 

Today, most patients in hospitals are hooked up to numerous machines and monitors via wires often leaving the patient with limited mobility.

But a British maker of wearable medical sensors seeks to market a device that resembles a bandage weighing half an ounce and can do the work of three or more machines. In 2013 Sensium Healthcare ran trials of SensiumVitals in hospitals in Michigan and California with positive reactions. The disposable patch is attached to the patient's chest and is capable of monitoring heart and respiratory rate as well as body temperature. It takes readings every two minutes and sends the data wirelessly to a nurse's station or handheld device.

Quicker Detection

The device also picks up changes in the patient's condition and sends this data out, immediately alerting the nurse or doctors who are able to respond quickly.

"Early feedback from patients and hospital staff at St John's has been very positive, with the device detecting deterioration in patients' conditions instantaneously, enabling intervention much sooner than normal," Toumaz CEO Anthony Sethill says in a company statement. "SensiumVitals represents a breakthrough in how patient care is delivered, setting a new, cost-effective standard for hospitals and also benefiting patients' recovery."

A Game Changer

The device has a battery life of five days which is enough to last a typical hospital stay and is disposable, reducing risk of contamination. The company said that the pilot program which ended in March 2013 provided early detection of deterioration in 12 percent of the 168 patients who took part in the study.

The device gained FDA 510(k) clearance in the US in July 2011 and is attracting interest from hospitals around the world.

Classroom Discussion

  • What are some of the pros and cons of having a remote health monitor like the SensiumVitals?
  • What other industries could benefit to wearable wireless technology such as the 'digital Band-Aid'?