The Illinois program gives people recovering from covid-19 a take-home kit that includes a pulse oximeter, a disposable Bluetooth-enabled sensor patch, and a paired smartphone. The software takes data from the wearable patch and uses machine learning to develop a profile of each person’s vital signs. The monitoring system alerts clinicians remotely when a patient’s vitals— such as heart rate—shift away from their usual levels.
Typically, patients recovering from covid might get sent home with a pulse oximeter. PhysIQ’s developers say their system is much more sensitive because it uses AI to understand each patient’s body, and its creators claim it is much more likely to anticipate important changes.
“It’s an enormous benefit,” says Terry Vanden Hoek, the chief medical officer and head of emergency medicine at University of Illinois Health, which is hosting the pilot. Working with covid cases is hard, he says: “When you work in the emergency department it’s sad to see patients who waited too long to come in for help. They would require intensive care on a ventilator. You couldn’t help but ask, ‘If we could have warned them four days before, could we have prevented all this?’”
Author(s): Rod McCullom
Publication Date: 9 June 2021
Publication Site: MIT Tech Review
Research is still in its early stage, but the last several months have seen a number of research efforts to increase the smartwatch’s illness detection capabilities. And it now looks like these tools will likely outlast the present pandemic.
Scripps Research has introduced an app called MyDataHelps as part of a study that tracks changes to a person’s sleep, activity level or resting heart rate. Fitbit is also building an algorithm that can detect COVID-19 before a person experiences symptoms. Meanwhile, Stanford Medicine researchers have developed a smartwatch alert system that can work on any wearable device, including Fitbit, Apple Watch and Garmin watches.
Michael Snyder, professor and chair of the Department of Genetics and director of Stanford Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine at Stanford University, says watches can pick up signals of respiratory illnesses, even with asymptomatic cases. As COVID-19 hit, Snyder’s research increased “full blast,” he said.
Author(s): Brian T. Horowitz
Publication Date: 6 March 2021
Publication Site: IEEE Spectrum