Digital ‘bandage’ checks vital signs

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Could wearable technology be the next big thing in healthcare?

Wireless specialist Sensium Healthcare thinks so, and has developed a high-tech adhesive patch that can monitor a patient’s vital signs.

Resembling a bandage and weighing just half an ounce, the SensiumVitals patch monitors heart rate, respiration and temperature. Attached to a patient’s chest, the patch takes readings every two minutes and the data is sent wirelessly to nurse stations and handheld devices. Notifications can also be sent to nurses if readings exceed certain pre-set thresholds, according to Oxford, U.K.-based Sensium.

Each wireless patch is disposable and has a battery life of five days – long enough to last a typical hospital stay.

The technology has been on trial at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan, since the end of May, and was successfully tested at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, last year.

Initial reaction to the patch at its first U.K. trial has also been positive. More than 50 patients at Spire Healthcare’s Montefiore Hospital in Brighton have worn SensiumVitals since the end of May. Nurses, in particular, see the technology as a way to deliver more effective care.

“The key advantage of the system is the frequency of the data sent automatically from the patch - it keeps nurses up to date with all their patients, so they can manage their workload more effectively,” said Lynette Awdry, matron at Montefiore Hospital, in a statement. “As a result, they can spend time with patients who might need more immediate attention, safe in the knowledge that if there is a sudden change with another patient, they can respond immediately.”