The CW Healthcare SIG were joined by medical device experts from Cambridge University Hospitals, Digica, B-Secur and Hibox to discuss how the current telemedicine system, which has become so crucial to healthcare during the coronavirus pandemic, could be further improved.
1. Movement analysis
Thomas Stone, a Clinical Scientist at Cambridge University Hospitals, works in the Movement Lab at Addenbrooke’s, an advanced suite of equipment filled with sensors and cameras that can analyse a patient’s movement in 3D space and identify impairments that are most likely to be affecting movement. The suite is effective, but expensive, and with the plethora of movement tracking devices on the market, the perception is that there must be a more efficient way to make a diagnosis. Could fitbits, inertial measurement units, or pose estimators replace the sophisticated array of sensors in a lab? Fitbits, maybe not. But pose estimators (computer vision based detection) can give limb segment movement, angles and velocities. If it was possible for this information to be collected in 3D, rather than from single viewpoints, movement analysis could be scalable to a home environment.
2. ECG detection
Adrian Condon from B-Secur is part of a team developing electrocardiogram detection technology that can be readily integrated into consumer devices. Given the huge strain that cardiovascular disease and stress places on the health system, it is an important area of focus for healthtech development and B-Secur are finding that as consumer devices increasingly adopt a health-conscious role in people’s lives, their technology is in high demand. If it's not already in your smartwatch, expect ECG monitoring to appear in your home very soon!
3. Patient / doctor calling via tablets
Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. Hibox produce tablets for remote care in clinical environments (hospitals, care homes, etc) that offer healthcare information and entertainment services in an easy to use format. Patients can use them to video call from their beds with nurses and doctors, or with loved ones at home; they can log care requests, stream videos, and more. Each tablet within a facility is under the full control of the administrator to prevent misuse, theft or abuse of personal credentials and cached data. Could these devices be rolled out to enable better social care in home environments, as well as in clinical settings?
4. Vital sign detection using computer vision
Can you imagine if your doctor were able to tell your heart rate, respiration rate or oxygen saturation levels just from a video call? Digica are developing a mobile phone-based solution that does just that using no data source other than the phone’s camera. The computer vision based solution functions on Android, iOS, Windows and Linux and in 180 tests accuracy was measured at 87% for heart rate and 78% for oxygen saturation – this final score improves significantly in optimum lighting conditions.
5. Joint measurement using Bluetooth sensors
In contrast to the complexity of the Movement Lab at Cambridge University Hospitals, Digica’s solution for analysing joint instability involves just a set of sensors strapped above and below a joint. These sensors include accelerometers, magnetometers and gyroscopes and they connect over Bluetooth to a tablet for data analysis. The patient data is stored in the cloud and can be accessed (with permission) by clinicians or other organisations and anonymised data sets can be used for further research. Essentially it’s a low-touch approach to the development of tailored treatment plans per subject.