Wireless device should enable patients' vital signs to be monitored without bulky monitoring machines
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Issued by Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
For immediate release
Monday 2 November 2009
A wireless digital 'plaster' that can monitor vital signs continuously and remotely is being tried out with patients and healthy volunteers at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, in a new clinical trial run by Imperial College London researchers.
Toumaz Technology Ltd’s Sensium™ digital 'plaster' or 'patch' is a disposable device that sticks to a patient's chest. It is designed to allow patients to have their health monitored continuously without being wired up to bulky, fixed monitoring machines, potentially freeing some patients from their hospital beds.
The digital plaster is based on innovative technology created by engineers at Imperial College London. It contains a wireless, smart, ultra-low power sensor platform in a silicon chip, which can monitor a range of vital signs like body temperature, heart rate and respiration in real-time.
The intention is that healthcare professionals will be able to download this information using a mobile phone, enabling them to pick up on any critical changes in their patients’ status on a 24-7 basis and allowing early detection and treatment of any unforeseen complications.
The data can also be integrated automatically into the patient's electronic medical record.
The team that developed the Sensium™ digital plaster from Toumaz Technology Ltd, a spin-out from Imperial College London, hope that it will enable some patients to recover from surgery and illness at home rather than in hospital. It should also mean that hospital in -patients have greater mobility. In addition, it could allow doctors to extend continuous monitoring of vital signs to a broader range of patients.
The disposable plaster has a working life of several days, after which it can be replaced, ensuring that infection control can be maintained.
Professor Chris Toumazou FRS led the team that developed the plaster and he is the CEO and co-founder of Toumaz Technology Ltd and the Director of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London. He said:
"We think the digital plaster could revolutionise healthcare and we’re really excited to see it being tried out with patients for the first time. Ultimately, the plaster could mean that doctors can keep track of any worrying changes in patients' vital signs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and then deal with any problems that arise really quickly. We think that fewer patients will have medical complications if doctors can spot health problems as soon as they arise and then treat each patient accordingly.
"We're hoping that the plaster will improve the health and wellbeing of a vast range of patients – from patients on a general hospital ward to people with chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease who want to have their health monitored without having to keep visiting the hospital. At the same time, the plaster should free up doctors and nurses’ time by allowing them to keep an eye on patients without continuously checking bits of machinery," added Professor Toumazou.
In the new trial, which is funded by CareFusion, researchers will be exploring whether the physiological data that doctors and nurses can obtain using the digital plaster system is equivalent to that which can be acquired using the current gold-standard monitors in use in hospitals.
The trial is being conducted in three phases: an initial phase with non-patient volunteers, followed by two patient study groups from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust - patients recovering from surgery and patients with specific medical conditions in the general wards. Those taking part in the trial will wear the digital plaster and they will also be connected to a state-of-the-art monitoring machine, so that the researchers can compare the performance of the two. Initial results are expected by the end of December 2009.
Dr Stephen Brett, the researcher who is leading the clinical trial, who is an Honorary Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London and a Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: "This project involves taking an elegant piece of engineering, developing it into a potentially clinically usable system and evaluating it in an acute hospital setting. Currently, unless they are in critical care or are identified as being at particular risk, most patients only have their vital signs measured every few hours. This can’t give us a complete picture of a patient’s health."If the new technology proves effective, it could enable us to collect vital sign information really frequently from large numbers of hospital patients, with minimal inconvenience to them. As the plaster is wireless, we would be able to collect the data without impairing patients’ ability to move about. This would be great because it is often important for a patient’s recovery to ensure that they can stay mobile."
The trial is taking place within the Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC), a partnership between Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, formed in October 2007. The AHSC's aim is to improve the quality of life of patients and populations by taking new discoveries and translating them into new therapies as quickly as possible.
For further information please contact:
Research Media Relations Manager
Imperial College London
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Notes to editors:
*** Images of the Sensium™ digital plaster are available in 300 dpi***
1. About Sensium™
Toumaz Technology's Sensium™ technology platform enables the non-intrusive acquisition of real-time, continuous physiological data for a wide range of health and lifestyle management applications, including remote healthcare, wellness and wireless monitoring at the bedside.
Sensium provides an open platform to develop revolutionary wireless devices that can continuously monitor multiple vital signs in real-time, and feed back high-quality information to health professionals via PCs, PDAs and smart phones.
2. About Toumaz Technology (www.toumaz.com)
Toumaz Technology Limited is the leading provider of ultra-low power wireless infrastructure for body monitoring solutions.
Toumaz's ultra low-power smart sensor interface and transceiver platform – Sensium™ – enables non-intrusive, real-time wireless monitoring of multiple vital signs for a wide range of healthcare and lifestyle management applications. Based on Toumaz's patented ultra-low power Advanced Mixed Signal (AMx)™ technology, the Sensium provides the enabling technology to connect the mobile individual to healthcare providers – simply, affordably and unobtrusively.
For healthcare professionals, this transforms the possibilities for pro-active monitoring and improved quality of care. For patients, it delivers new opportunities for lifestyle-compatible, personalised healthcare, as well as better therapeutic outcomes.
3. The Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust comprises Charing Cross, Hamm ersmith Hospital, Queen Charlotte's & Chelsea, St Mary's and Western Eye hospitals. It is the largest Trust in the country and, in partnership with Imperial College Lon don, is the UK's first Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC).
4. About Imperial College London
Consistently rated amongst the world's best universities, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 13,000 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and business, delivering practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.
Since its foundation in 1907, Imperial's contributions to society have included the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the foundations of fibre optics. This commitment to the application of research for the benefit of all continues today, with current focuses including interdisciplinary collaborations to improve health in the UK and globally, tackle climate change and develop clean and sustainable sources of energy.
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