Digitalisation of COPD Monitoring Using Smart Wearable Technology
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a long-term condition caused by inflammation in the lungs. COPD is a progressive disease, worsening over time with age and weight. Symptoms include breathing difficulty, cough, wheezing and snoring. In 2020 it will become the 3rd leading cause of death worldwide with 384 patients.
Based on current practices (patient’s subjective feeling and the spirometer test), doctors cannot assess properly the condition of a COPD patient outside of the hospital. Severe COPD patients are often rehospitalized and thus have a life critical need of close monitoring when they leave hospital which results in frequent need of clinic visits and increased healthcare cost. The need for having a reliable telehealth solution to home monitor at risk patients has not been adequately solved due to lack of innovation in wearable technology for the required high safety demands. Without a cure for COPD, the demand for this solution should remain in the long run.
StepUp Health is a worn patch that allows remote home monitoring of a patient’s breathing parameters to predict the deterioration of the pulmonary condition by identifying abnormal breathing patterns. The outcome is an improved COPD disease treatment strategy. This project will vastly improve the current version to reach a close to market miniaturized design by adding innovation via an extra snoring sensor, sensor fusion, algorithms, rechargeable battery and better ergonomics by embedding the components into a flexible PCB that would be patched onto the skin through a smart washable textile or model silicone enclosure and the doctor and patient apps.
The home monitoring device allows the patient to be monitored for the longer period of time compared to the conventional approach. The increased monitoring allows to collect the medical grade data about the disease progression/evolution. It is easy to determine, whether the patient’s lifestyle (patient’s contribution) or chosen treatment strategy, assigned treatment are working as expected. Furthermore, the evidence about the deteriorating COPD patient’s health in a long run allows both patients and doctors to foresee and prevent COPD emergencies. The tele-monitoring approach has been used in the medical field already and it has proven the effectiveness in improving overall disease management. However, there is a lack of long period monitoring solutions in a COPD market. It is expected, that with the launch of our solution we will improve the lives of COPD patients, provide a reliable tool for the medical professionals and reduce redundant associated economic burden.
The consortium has finalized the technical plan of the prototype. The prototype is composed of a few different components. The hardware part was developed in accordance to the market’s functional, UI and UX requirements. Only the important vital parameters have been shortlisted and relevant sensors have been installed into the main hardware unit. Signal processing algorithms have been finalized. Bio-signal processing still has some room for the improvement. However, most of the algorithm-based objectives have been accomplished. The software part (App) has been developed with a patient-centric mindset. The leading company has interviewed both patients and doctors to extract the list of features in demand. Both – architecture and the design of the App are fulfilling the discovered needs (UI and UX). Currently, the application is compatible with the Android operating system (iOS coming soon).
1) Health Care system in general – the reasoned and early treatment will reduce the workload in the emergency department, reduce hospitalizations and, hence, associated costs.
2) COPD patients – physical and mental benefits. The increased awareness of their own health, changes in it and the sense of safety due to availability to be warned before critical health situations. It is also expected, that part of the patients will me more motivated to come back into labour market since they are more confident about their health.
3) Society/government– decrease avoidable mortality, less demand for COPD related services such as the day-care, medical attention at home. Considering that the solution can be implemented in any EU country (with different payment systems), some patients and family members will experience lower personal direct and indirect costs due to improved COPD management and awareness. Significant contribution to common societal welfare is expected after implementing the solution.
4) Private Health Insurance providers – since this entity group is motivated to improve the quality of customers’ life and prevention of any health deteriorations due to financial burden. The investment into the intervention, will help to prevent this third party payer class unnecessary COPD costs.
5) Scientific – with the tele monitoring approach, it will be easy to collect proper evidence from more than 5 vital parameters at once. That will allow them to start new research projects in developing new methods of COPD treatment and management.
6) Business – the publicized data (collected knowledge base) can be used directly by other Health Innovation based businesses. They will be able to provide the health market the new innovative solutions to COPD field based on the solution’s utilization.