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Top 10 e-Health Innovations of 2011

December 19, 2011

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Practical Patient Care 

From social media to video games and radio frequency identification systems to online trend tracking, the healthcare industry is rapidly embracing technology in an effort to improve the quality of patient care and meet ever-tightening budgetary requirements. Elly Earls profiles the ten most exciting e-health gadgets currently on the market and under development.

1. Training: Patient Rescue Trusim

Patient Rescue is a video game-based training and assessment application, which supports newly qualified medical staff to recognise the signs of patient deterioration and intervene effectively. It gives pointers on performance to enable users to improve their decision-making skills, while trainers can also track users’ progress. Created by TruSim, a division of Blitz Games Studios, with some funding from the UK Technology Strategy Board, it provides a highly realistic virtual character that accurately displays all the signs and symptoms of serious illness in real time. User testing with trainee doctors has brought positive feedback and TruSim is currently seeking investment for further development and commercialisation.

2. Hand Hygiene: Handgiene System – Handgiene Corp

A new monitoring system for tracking, measuring and improving hand-washing compliance that uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is now available to healthcare facilities in the US. The HandGiene system works with a proprietary formula of soap for restrooms, patient rooms or hallway hand sanitisers that takes 15 seconds of friction to dissipate, ensuring non-contaminated hands. Each person is issued a name tag or wristband that can be read by the RFID-enabled system on entering and leaving an area, and at the dispensing unit; every instance is logged into a database that can be read in real time. The web-based software allows administrators to monitor specific employees, teams, departments and shifts at entire facilities or multiple locations, and the system integrates with existing legacy software for rapid installation and ease-of-use.

3. Search Engines: Semaphore Smartlogic

For conventional search engines to work effectively, users’ understanding and use of terms must line up precisely with those of the author and particular document being sought. For patients without medical knowledge, this can be problematic. Smartlogic’s Semaphore is an ‘enterprise semantic platform’ that allows a more precise user experience, filtering out extraneous and unrelated documents so users can find the information they need more quickly and easily. Where many information retrieval platforms simply take the few inputted terms and, using closed algorithms, scan the index for these words, Semaphore applies the principles of ‘semantic search’, addressing the searchers’ intent and the contextual meaning of the terms chosen. The NHS has already implemented a semantic approach to its primary patient portal NHS Choices.

4. mHealtH: Text Messaging Programme – Partners Healthcare

A text messaging programme, funded by Partners Healthcare, that offers informational and supportive text messages for women throughout pregnancy and two months post-partum has been successful in encouraging pregnant women in Lynn, US, to get the proper amount of pre-natal care. The goal was to offer the programme to younger women who had limited support systems in place and would truly benefit from additional reminders about healthy pregnancy. The women, aged 22 on average, received between one and four text messages a week. Results of patient surveys and data review showed that the women who got text messages from their clinical team were 9% more likely to receive the recommended level of pre-natal care than other pregnant women who did not get such text messages.

5. Patient Data: Digital Pen Destiny

The UK’s Wolverhampton Primary Care Trust has signed a four-year contract with Destiny that enables clinicians to use Destiny’s digital pen system to capture real-time data about patients and automatically transmit it to the NHS data centre. Clinicians use digital pens based on Anoto Technology to write out their forms, which are then automatically time and date stamped. Clinicians then follow a simple docking process using the pen’s built-in USB connection and a PC router to automatically transmit the recorded data to the secure NHS data centre. Software at the data centre converts the handwriting into text, which is transmitted back to the Trust’s iPM patient record system as a PDF copy of the original form and as an XML data file. This all happens in less than a minute.

6. Patient Education: TIGR TeleHealth Services

An interactive patient and staff education system, TIGR is able to provide patients with video-on-demand access to a healthcare facility’s entire library of educational content 24 hours a day. Each patient has a personalised package that aims to better educate them about their condition through video, surveys and comprehension tests, which they are asked to complete during their hospital stay. They are also supplied with information about the hospital’s services and are able to give real-time feedback on the quality of care they have received. The easy-to-use graphical interface has been created with patients of all ages and educational backgrounds in mind.

7. mHealtH: Medication Reminder Service – Doro and Myglucohealth

Easy-to-use mobile phones from Doro can connect seamlessly with the world’s leading diabetes management solution, the Bluetooth-enabled MyGlucoHealth blood glucose meter, to provide a one-touch medication reminder service, improving the everyday management of diabetes. The phones can also deliver a medication reminder solution thanks to Doro’s work with Medixine. This service provides a simple one-key automated SMS mechanism so the user can register that a medicine has been taken; the system holds the user’s medication schedule and correlates the SMS data against that of the schedule. If a message is not received by the server within a selected time period – after the set time for medication – a pre-programmed reminder will be sent as an SMS warning alert to the user’s Doro phone.

8. Software: VitalPaC – The Learning Clinic

VitalPAC is a clinical software system that helps identify high-risk and deteriorating patients. Nurses enter vital signs data such as pulse, blood pressure and temperature into handheld computers at the point of care rather than onto the traditional paper chart. VitalPAC then automatically analyses the data, creates an observations chart, calculates a score as to how ill the patient is, and gives the user advice on exactly what action should be taken. It also assesses each patient’s risk of developing common conditions such as blood clots and hospital-acquired infections. Hospitals that have installed the system have seen fewer ICU admissions, shorter lengths of stay and lower mortality rates.

9. Search Engines: Dengue Trends – Google

Brazil, India, Indonesia and Singapore. While official data can take weeks to be analysed, Google’s results are collected in real time. The project was developed with Boston’s Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, both in the US, and is part of Google Correlate, a new service that connects search analysis with real-life data. Correlate was created following Google’s success with Flu Trends in 2009, a tool that tracked searches for flu-related terms worldwide.

10. iPads: HealthUnlocked Tracker – Healthunlocked

The UK’s first online patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) system has been launched at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. The iPad-based system allows patients to track their own post-operative progress in clinic on an iPad, but also at home via the internet. This is traditionally done by hand before follow-up appointments, and the data is rarely referred to because of this. In addition, the system allows the clinician to have access to the patient’s progress (with permission) over an extended period of time. Previously the patient would not have been tracked after their follow-up consultations, but now they can be tracked for years by simply reporting their progress online. This allows surgeons to gain a better understanding of the long-term impacts of different surgeries and will ultimately affect commissioning decisions.

Categorized as TeleHealth Approach
Tagged as Technology