Wearable device provides continuous patient monitoring

A wearable medical device developed by a company in Ireland is expected to enhance patient monitoring and well being, help nurses work more efficiently, and simplify hospital ward management.

Dubbed KEWS100, the iPhone sized sensor is capable of continuously monitoring heart-rate, respiration rate, pulse oximetry, temperature, and blood pressure. In use, the system interfaces with a centralised nurses station so that clinicians can observe and monitor patients.

In August 2013 Galway-based Syncrophi Systems received €1m of equity investment to bring the wireless patient monitoring system to market.

Chartered engineer and Syncrophi CEO David Toohey explained that continuous monitoring gives patients the freedom to leave their bedsides and get relatively undisturbed sleep as there is less requirement for nurses to wake patients for routine observations.

The system contains a tracking capability so patients who show signs of deterioration whilst away from their beds are easily discoverable. Operating on 2.4Ghz and 5GHz bands and working for up to three days on a single charge, the system uses gateways deployed throughout areas of the hospital where the patient is free to move while being continuously monitored.

‘This allows us to ‘locate’ a patient within a cell,’ Toohey told The Engineer. ‘Typically we narrow down their location to a ward, a bathroom, a corridor, a stairwell etc…we don’t actually want very much range in this scenario…in fact we usually turn down the transmission power so that as the patient moves around they get passed over from gateway to gateway. We also use Reference Nodes to give finer location accuracy.’

He added that the device can be calibrated to identify patients with conditions that put them at risk; alerts can be set for vital signs, which increases the detection of deteriorating patients or those showing signs of respiratory or cardiac arrest.

For nurses, KEWS100 has the potential to support Early Warning Scorecard (EWS) protocols, providing what Syncrophi terms cEWS, or continuous EWS in real-time from a central monitor – rather than fixed bedside monitors – that receives data from patients wearing the device.

Toohey added that continuous monitoring also gives ward managers greater confidence when managing critical care beds because the certainty provided by the device is likely to decrease length of stay in critical care.

KEWS100, which weighs between 210g and 286g depending on how it is configured, is currently being installed in the Galway Clinic private hospital with further roll out planned in Ireland and Britain.