Doctors and researchers cry “I want the data”

First published at https://www.sensorsmag.com/embedded/medical-sensors-design-conference-2018-doctors-and-researchers-cry-i-want-data

The human body gives off billions of data points every day. Imagine if we could collect that data and make sense of it. We could actually provide health recommendations to patients based on real data analysis. That is what medical researchers and clinical care professionals are clamoring for.

Medical researchers and clinical care professionals want to gather physiological data related to a condition or complication to refine diagnosis or therapy, or they want to detect new conditions early.  To gain a competitive advantage, some equipment manufacturers want to develop a wearable device to complement their main product by collecting additional sensor data. Others see untapped opportunities based on new data.

Human body is a complex dynamic system that offers a wealth of data

Here is a list of some key types of body’s biological / physiological functions commonly measured by medical devices.

  • Body temperature
  • Heart rate (pulse) rhythm, and variability
  • Blood oxygen
  • Blood pressure- diastolic / systolic
  • Blood sugar (glucose)
  • EKG / ECG (electrocardiogram) – measures the electrical activity of the heart muscle, providing information on the heart’s response to physical exertion
  • EEG (electroencephalography) – measures the electrical activity in the brain
  • EMG (electromyography) – measures electrical activity of muscles
  • Accelerometer measures movement of the body and muscle activity
  • Respiration- count, rhythm or regularity, character/type
  • Other blood tests, urine tests, sputum, etc

Market trends & business drivers

Medical care companies are operating in an environment where there is a transition to outcome-based business models and personalized care. The focus not just on clinical innovation but also improving clinical outcomes, long-term economic value, care delivery efficiencies, and enhanced patient experience. It has also triggered a shift to value-based care that is proactive: it strives to maintain healthy populations and prevent illness, reducing the need for clinical visits and hospital care. To satisfy these new operating realities requires more personalized care and treatments tailored to individual variations. The personalized care drives the need to collect, combine, and share a variety of patient and population health data in real time. This data will be used not only to maintain health and prevent the need for clinical visits but also to refine diagnoses and adjust treatments based on patient response and complications.

Product development challenges

There are many challenges involved in new product development. The first and foremost challenge is making sure you have accurate data. The biggest challenge with sensors on the body is to collect clean valid data.  If not done right there can be false data or missing data that makes diagnosis difficult. Additionally, for wearable devices the need to manage power consumption and wireless data transmission can introduce additional complexity. The result may be inconsistent data collection and data that you may not be able to rely upon for assessing the impact of a clinical intervention.

In some cases, the data may only be needed for the trial, and it will be gathered by an adjunct unit. In other cases it may be integrated directly into the device or incorporated into a treatment protocol. There is a temptation for researchers to press graduate students into a product development role, to hack something together quickly to support the primary research but this often leads to:

  • it doesn’t work very well
  • it’s not clear that the data is good
  • it has challenges in terms of data transmission and power

Quickly get accurate data into a cloud

Voler’s Universal Health-Sensor Platform is an exciting new pre-engineered platform for wearable medical devices. It is your fastest path to capturing and transmitting accurate patient data.  Voler’s pre-engineering prototype platform is small enough to be worn, and provides wireless data transmission so you can access your data in the cloud.  Voler can quickly add the right type of sensor for your application and make sure it is collecting good accurate data.

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