Monitoring patients is an absolute must in medicine. Everyone knows that monitoring a patient’s vital signs, blood pressure, and temperature is standard practice. In some cases, even the patient’s continuous EKG is truly important to monitor to assure positive development and solution to a disease. Almost everyone is being hospitalized at some point in their lives, and we surely know that it’s important to rest. But, when we are sick, sometimes it is difficult to fall asleep – and when you do, it it’s almost certain that nurses will come around and turn the light on to measure your pulse or your blood pressure, which certainly is a bummer!
Because of this, researchers at the Engineering department of the Universidad Tecnológica de Ciudad Juárez at Ciudad Juárez, Mexico developed a system that allows remote monitoring of body temperature (Temp.) and heart rate (HR) of a patient using a wireless sensor network (WSN) and Mobile Augmented Reality (MAR). Both of them provide a method to measure body temperature and heart rate remotely in real time during patient care. This system is called the Smart Multi-level Tool for Remote Patient Monitoring (SMTRPM). But how does this work? This technology is based on single patient nodes that can sense, sample, and process one or more biometric signals, like body heat and heart rate. This information will be transported to a nursing network that at the same time it is processed and displayed on this nursing station in real time and delivered to the Mobile AR station of the system.
And exactly how does Augmented Reality enter the frame? Well, let us introduce you to the Virtual Patient File (VPF), which is an application that allows the creation of a Mixed Reality file displayed with markers on real surfaces, such as the clinical chart, or the door, or… you name it! Practically everywhere. The VPF application uses two markers to display the BT and HR in real time while associated with a marker ID that is connected to a patient node through the nursing stations. Both of those markers are pasted conveniently on each patient’s headboard, allowing easy access for the personnel during shifts without waking the patient up every two to four hours. AWESOME!
For example, the nurse approaches a bed and initiates the app. Instantly, the nurse points to the markers with the smartphone camera and the application generates a 2D thermometer or a heart image, which is superimposed onto the real scene in the position and orientation defined by the marker. By touching this 2D image, the nurse obtains the BT or HR status in real time without disturbing the patient. Obviously, this technology is not ready for standard use in real hospitals at the moment, since the tests applied to it during the study showed that it could be improved in several ways such as a decrease in the time to obtain the results, and the instauration of preemptive alarm that would allow the system to detect hyperthermia, hypothermia, tachycardia, bradycardia needs measuring it is done. All of this is being developed for another phase of the study.
Basically, AR can enter and improve each and every aspect of medical practice. Keeping a continuous, updatable, and easy to access register of vital signs is sometimes the reason a patient is added into an intermediate care facility – imagine the costs this is going to reduce if implanted! It could even reduce the number of medical personnel needed to care for patients! We really want to take a look at this technology and the improvements it could generate around itself beyond the ones proposed in the study. Imagine a telemetry station set in each patient’s home, or implementing other vital constants, such as SO2%, or breaths per minute. The possibilities are endless!
What do you think about it? Tell us about it in the comments section.