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July 22, 2014

How an Internet of Things health monitor is relieving pressure on NHS wards

Sensium’s wireless patch is ‘reducing pressure’ on nurses.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

A health monitoring patch that is placed on the chest is easing pressure in hospital wards and has the potential to monitor patients in their own home.

Developed by Oxford-based Sensium Healthcare, the ultra-low power wireless system transmits data on a person’s heart rate, breathing levels and body-temperature while the patient is free to move around.

The device, which updates information every couple of minutes, passes on the recorded data to the hospital’s IT system with the help of a wi-fi router.

A hospital in Brighton, operated by private healthcare firm Spire, claimed while it does not replace checks, it does ease some of the pressure placed on nurses.

Staff nurse Victoria Howard told the BBC: "It gives us a bit more time with some patients when we know some patients do need that bit more time.

"Without this monitor, you’re constantly thinking what’s happening in the next room, and I should go in there and check them.

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"Knowing this is on and it works well, we’re able to spend that bit more time."

The matron, Lynette Awdrey, said: "Nothing will ever replace compete with clinical observation and the assessment of the patients. What this does is alert you sooner, so you can fulfil those observations and assessments of the patient and activate the appropriate care and treatment for them."

She added that the patches had provided early detection of deterioration in about 12% of patients who had worn them.

It comes after a study in the British Medical Journal in 2012 concluded that nearly 12,000 deaths in hospitals in England had been preventable, of which a third was related to clinical monitoring.

Prof Timothy Coats, a consultant in emergency medicine at Leicester Royal Infirmary, said the patch could potentially after patients in the home in time "because we could observe them remotely rather than in hospital".

"This certainly could have a use in the emergency department from the emergency care phase right through to the first couple of days in hospital when the patient is more liable to deteriorate," he added.

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