A clinical warning system using wireless sensors to track at-risk patients is undergoing a feasibility study in the US.
The device takes blood oxygenation and heart rate readings once or twice every minute, transmitting the data to a base station, where the readings are combined with the patient’s electronic medical record.
The incoming data will indicate clinical deterioration, in which case a nurse will be called to check on the patient.
Dr Chenyang Lu, the principal investigator for the trial at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St Louis, said the idea is to create a virtual intensive care unit (ICU) where patients can move around freely without being wired to beeping machines.
Dr Lu believes it won’t be long before any serious medical condition can be tracked using virtual ICUs. He claims that patients would wear a wireless medical device that monitored their health on a smartphone, which would call doctors or relatives if clinical deterioration occurred.
The study is supported by the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Award through the Washington University Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences and the BJH Foundation.