A smart way to watch over COVID-19 patients

The smartwatch will record the patient’s blood oxygen saturation and body temperature in real time.

The smartwatch will record the patient’s blood oxygen saturation and body temperature in real time.   | Photo Credit: By Special Arrangement

Smartwatch to track asymptomatic cases and those under home isolation in real time

With the Union Health Ministry announcing new guidelines for the home isolation of people who either have very mild COVID-19 symptoms or are in the pre-symptomatic phase, it will now be a mammoth task for authorities to monitor their health status and also ensure they do not violate home quarantine norms.

This is where a wearable device developed by faculty from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) and city-based doctors, in collaboration with MIISKY Technovation Pvt. Ltd., could come in handy.

Measuring vitals

The device [a smartwatch] can measure various vital parameters of individuals under isolation on a real-time basis. Linked to a smartphone via Bluetooth, the smartwatchwill record the patient’s blood oxygen saturation and body temperature in real time, said Hardik J. Pandya, Assistant Professor, at the Department of Electronic Systems Engineering at IISc., who heads the Biomedical and Electronic Engineering Systems (BEES) Laboratory at the institute.

He said the device is suitable for those under isolation and also for asymptomatic COVID-19 positive patients.

The team that has developed this device comprises, besides Dr. Pandya, students at BEES Laboratory and doctors from Aster CMI and Sri Shankara Cancer Hospital and Research Centre and researchers from MIISKY Technovation Pvt. Ltd.

Sonal Asthana, Senior Consultant Transplant surgeon in Aster Integrated Liver Care team, said the device will also help get the location details of the wearer.

“The location details will help ensure that the individual is adhering to quarantine norms. A warning can be sent to authorities if the user crosses over from one zone to another. Also, if the temperature rises or the oxygen saturation level falls below 93%, the wearable device alerts the local tracking centre about the impending need for hospitalisation,” Dr. Asthana explained.

“These readings are then automatically uploaded to an Android application [via Bluetooth] which can be accessed by clinicians or the Health Department. When there is an increase in the body temperature or a drop in the oxygen saturation level, beyond admissible limits, the health officials can be alerted through an SMS,” he said. “Using this device, people can be monitored even in their homes and thus we can save hospitals for the critical patients.”

The team that started work eight months ago, on a medical device to record vital parameters in patients, thought it was more suitable for COVID-19 patients as nearly 80% of patients are asymptomatic and may only need medical attention if they develop fever or shortness of breath with low oxygen saturation levels.

The device uses non-invasive near-infrared technology for calculating these vital parameters. “It is envisaged that such a technology will be of critical utility in public health management of our country in times of a pandemic. It will help ease the burden on the testing facilities and the health infrastructure by being able to monitor asymptomatic patients remotely,” said Dr. Pandya.

He said the team is in the process of filing a patent and planning to use it on volunteers in the coming weeks.

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 5:56:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/a-smart-way-to-watch-over-covid-19-patients/article31465049.ece

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