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Remote Monitoring of Children – An Extra Level of Care

By Rebecca Weir, cofounder of Isansys Lifecare Ltd and Director of Business Development

New parents often find themselves overwhelmed with the responsibility of taking care of a child.

Besides every day issues of care, there can also be concerns about the child’s health and well-being.

But, what if your child got sick or your baby was born prematurely?

Careful and continuous monitoring would be critical, and, as a parent, you would want to ensure your child was getting the best level of care, whilst also feeling comfortable in their surroundings.

In today’s healthcare facilities, effective care goes hand in hand with effective patient monitoring technology. From critical care to patients under anaesthesia, a consistent safety net is needed in order to reduce adverse events and ensure positive outcomes. This is even more crucial when it comes to the monitoring of children or neonates.

                 

Early warning signs more often than not precede life-threatening events in children. However, these signs are often missed or not acted upon because existing monitoring methods may not provide the accuracy required in paediatrics, and most do not provide the continuous monitoring necessary to detect transient events nor the ability to automatically combine vital sign indicators to provide real-time early warning scores.

The National Patient Safety Agency, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and the Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries have all recommended the implementation of early warning systems to identify clinical deterioration and initiate early treatment in children and neonates., A simple, low cost and clinically validated technology solution for this would mean a child’s observations could be performed more accurately and quickly, and they could return home sooner.

  

Current technologies available to monitor children generally involve wires, tubes and large, cumbersome machines. But, the good news is, this doesn’t have to be the norm.

Advances in wireless monitoring technology are enabling rapidly evolving and less invasive methods that have the potential to provide better care.

Isansys Lifecare Ltd in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, has developed a device that allows a child or neonate to be monitored continuously in real-time, ensuring deterioration is identified more quickly and timely treatment is given.

The device, called the Lifetouch resembles a lightweight adhesive bandage strip. It is fitted, unobtrusively, to the body with no wires. And, whilst the child plays or is with its parents, the Lifetouch collects data directly from the child and analyses the ECG of every heartbeat to provide continuous heart rate, respiration rate, heart rate variability and at the push of an on-screen button, a real-time ECG trace.

The Lifetouch is one of the sensors comprising the Patient Status Engine (PSE), a multiple vital sign data capture and analysis system. The data from the Lifetouch is transmitted via a low energy Bluetooth connection to the Isansys gateway located near to the bedside. The gateway analyses the data and wirelessly transmits the new clinical information into a central server and from there via web services delivers the patient status indicators to any authorised laptop, desktop or mobile device.

The Lifetouch was used in a recent clinical study at a UK-based hospital to prove the feasibility of remote monitoring in children and to assess the duration and accuracy of the data collected. During the trial, young patients on a cardiology ward were monitored with the Lifetouch cardiac monitor and a wireless  SpO² device  from Nonin Corp. that was also integrated into the Isansys PSE.

The proof of concept study was carried out over a period of two months and, during this time, 41 patients aged between five months and 14 years, were monitored continuously by the clinically certified wireless wearable sensors.

The patients in the trial were also monitored with traditional bedside equipment which gave a comparative view to the doctors and nurses attending the patients. The study showed that the wireless devices could remotely monitor children and provide continuous measures of the child’s pulse, oxygen levels and heart rate. The study also highlighted that the development of specific paediatric sensors would help to improve patient comfort and compliance.

Monitoring children and neonates is a delicate task, but is one that is absolutely vital. We are currently working closely with paediatricians, nurses and healthcare providers to develop our technology further to meet all of the clinical needs and ensure that patients and their families feel comfortable at all times.

With this technology now available, we’re not just giving families the opportunity to get rid of cables and allow their child to have some freedom whilst being monitored, but we’re also enabling them to know that their child is receiving the best care possible.

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