More sophistication and performance in new POCT and monitoring systems for home use
Efforts to increase patient home self-testing and monitoring continue to pay off. Two new products for point-of-care (POC) health tests and patient home monitoring recently entered the marketplace. Both systems are devices that enable healthcare professionals to remotely monitor patients with chronic illnesses.
Separately, UK-based The Jaltek Group and Sweden-based Ericsson each introduced wireless monitoring systems worn by patients at home or in healthcare facilities. These systems improve patients’ quality of life by continuously monitoring their vital signs while allowing free movement. These devices also avoid the need for frequent trips to the doctor and may lower health care costs.
Ericsson tested its HealthService24 platform at European sites for three conditions: high-risk pregnancy, cardiac conditions, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This mobile health monitoring and management system utilizes technologies like Body Area Networks (BAN), 2.5/3G wireless broadband communications (GPRS/UMTS), and wearable medical devices. The system allows healthcare professionals to remotely monitor patients.
Ericsson’s monitoring system is designed to help patients achieve early discharge and support continuous follow-up and prevention. In clinical studies, its use improved outcomes. Patients with chronic diseases claimed to better understand their illnesses, which was verified by a doubling in patient self-management skills, along with drop in hospital readmissions of more than 50%. Distant monitoring of pregnant woman also correctly detected uterine activity that forecasts delivery within 48 hours.
Jaltek’s Equivital system will be available in U.S. markets because the device attained approval under the CE medical device standard ISO 13485:2003. Equivital is an ambulatory, wearable, physiological system. It provides continuous real time visibility of an individual’s vital signs, including: heart rate, electrocardiogram (ECG), respiration rate and effort, temperature, body position, blood oxygen saturation, impact and fall detection.
Equivital can be integrated with a range of other point-in-time measurement systems, such as weigh-scales and blood-pressure monitors. Data can be viewed by a healthcare professional in one of three ways: over the Internet on a wireless network; using a patient monitoring screen; or, as recorded to a memory card.
Extensive validation trials performed by a number of agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense, have demonstrated Equivital’s ambulatory data recording performance as the best in its class. Possible other uses of the system range from telehealth, first responder and paramedic applications, to occupational welfare, sports performance analysis and physical endurance research.
Laboratory professionals can expect the pace of introduction of point-of-care testing (POCT) devices to accelerate. Some of these POCT systems will replace diagnostic tests currently performed in traditional laboratory settings. For that reason, pathologists and clinical laboratory managers will want to develop informatics capabilities to interact with these types of remote testing and remote monitoring systems. Having access to that data positions pathologists and laboratory professionals to offer expertise in interpreting results of data obtained via new remote testing and monitoring systems. —P. Kirk