Bluetooth Technology May Aid Medical Workers In Ebola Zones
Last year’s Ebola outbreak left an unprecedented number of healthcare workers infected. According to the World Health Organization, the virus killed nearly 500 medical professionals in West Africa. Add to that the first-ever Ebola diagnosis and death in the U.S., which then infected two nurses, and the medical community was left scrambling to solve the dilemma: How do they continue to care for patients while ensuring their staff is safe?
One answer may be a Bluetooth® enabled wearable sensor, similar to those currently used in the fitness world. Measuring body temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation, the sensors help doctors, nurses, and aid workers remotely monitor potentially contagious patients. The patient applies the disposable wearable like a bandage, and Bluetooth technology sends the vital stats to a computer, smartphone, or tablet using specially designed apps. A personalized physiology analytics (PPA) platform, developed by physIQ, will then be able to detect subtle changes in a patient’s physiological profile over time.
“This will open the door to identify warning signs very early on, when potentially life-saving care can be provided, and will be invaluable in minimizing risk of exposure during an Ebola virus outbreak,” says Steven Steinhubl, MD, director of digital medicine at Scripps Translational Science Institute, which won a government grant to design a program utilizing the wearables.
The program, called STAMP2 (standing for Sensor Technology and Analytics to Monitor, Predict, and Protect Ebola Patients), is currently in the development phase. Along with Scripps and PhysIQ, the program also includes Sotera Wireless (a wireless vital signs monitor developer) and Rhythm Diagnostic Systems (a wireless health sensor developer).