A Ballarat tech start-up has developed a remote health monitoring system that could take on the world.
Their system uses wearable sensors to monitor a patient’s vital signs and transmit the data to a central server where it is analysed. If the patient is deteriorating or needs assistance, an alarm or alert message is sent to the mobile phones of medical staff to ensure a rapid response.
Developers Andrew Stranieri and Venki Balasubramanian have been working on the system for almost a decade and last year trialled the system in an Indian hospital where nurse-to-patient ratios are far greater than in the Australian health care system.
The pair also see applications in other hospital settings, aged care, and in the rapidly growing sector of hospital in the home which many Australian hospitals offer.
“As of now there is no real time monitoring of patients remotely,” Dr Balasubramanian said. “They do it within hospitals but not remotely from anywhere in the world.”
Associate Professor Stranieri said the pair initially looked toward India because of a nursing shortage through the country. “Each nurse looks after quite a large number of patients making it difficult to stay on top of their vital signs,” he said.
Locally the pair see strong use of their system in hospital in the home programs, which allow patients to recover at home instead of a hospital ward.
”Most hospitals run a hospital in the home unit allowing hospital patients to recover at home so this sort of system will allow patients to recover while having their vital signs monitored remotely by a doctor and nurse back in the hospital. If the patient, carer or doctor is worried about their recovery they can pop on the device and be monitored.”
Patients with chronic health conditions such as COPD and cystic fibrosis, which require ongoing monitoring particularly of blood oxygen levels and respiratory rates, could also benefit.
LaTrobe University recently granted the start-up $10,000 and will provide 12 weeks of business mentoring and assistance from their engineering, law, science and nursing faculties to get their business up and running.
The arrival on the market last year of affordable health sensors that monitor all five vital signs at once has accelerated the system’s potential commercial development.
“We were able to customise our software to use its data, then ran a pilot trial in India last October,” Dr Balasubramanian said.
The cash injection will accelerate plans for commercial release and allow a larger trial to run at an Indian hospital for at least three months with 12 to 14 patients on the system at any one time.