A system which uses a mobile phone to transmit a person’s vital signs - including their ECG heart signal, to a hospital or clinic anywhere in the world - has been developed at Loughborough University.

Created by Professor Bryan Woodward and Dr. Fadlee Rasid from the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, the system enables a doctor to observe remotely up to four different medical signals from a freely moving patient.

Signals that can be transmitted include the ECG, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and body temperature.

Talking about the invention, Professor Woodward said: “The idea of using mobile phone technology is that a doctor can monitor a patient who can be literally anywhere, perhaps hundreds or even thousands of miles away, and they can speak to each other at the same time. It could be used for a number of medical purposes, such as remote routine check-ups, as well as in emergency and rescue situations and to gather sports science physiological data.”

A working prototype of the system has now been tested successfully under realistic conditions. The tests showed that heart data and other vital signs can be acquired via sensors attached to the wrist and then transmitted from a mobile phone in real time and received error-free on a computer many miles away.

The next challenge is to miniaturise the system so that the patient carries a unit no bigger than a credit card.