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Case Study: IoT Helps Heart Patients Track Vitals

According to a Cleveland Clinic report, up to 900,000 U.S. Medicare patients are diagnosed each year with heart failure—the leading cause of hospitalizations. And the cost of readmissions alone can be measured not only in the impact on patients and their families, but as an estimated $20 billion drain on the U.S. economy.

Statistics like these are driving medical professionals and technologists to find new ways to improve patient post-care.

Reducing the rate of readmissions, complying with stringent government regulations, and improving medical outcomes continue to be top challenges for providers. Overcoming them is essential to delivering effective, affordable, and timely healthcare to an aging population.

Heart failure patients need to continuously monitor their health over an array of vital signs, but typically they find it to be a challenge. And it’s a significant reason for the high rate of readmissions. The healthcare technology sector is finding new ways to develop mobile health solutions—making it easier for patients to monitor themselves.

Aventyn is one company doing just that with its Vitalbeat solution—an integrated chronic disease management solution.

Health Monitoring Beyond the Hospital Room

Vitalbeat provides simple, secure, and cost-efficient remote patient monitoring that computes both at the edge and in the cloud. By incorporating consumer technology, such as smartphones, tablets and apps, into its product, Aventyn makes self-monitoring convenient for patients, their families, and medical staff. (Figure 1)

Figure 1. The Vitalbeat solution remotely connects patients and physician databases. (Source: Intel®)

The solution runs on the Intel® Health Application Platform (Intel® IHAP), which enables solution providers to securely and reliably deliver distributed healthcare services from edge to cloud.

Clinical Trials Demonstrate Feasibility

Results from an ongoing study of remote self-monitoring by heart failure patients were presented at a conference held by the American Heart Association. It demonstrated how a solution like Vitalbeat has the potential for improving patient care and quality of life.

In this Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved study, congestive heart failure patients in the US, India, and Sweden were equipped with a blood pressure apparatus, a digital weight scale, and a mobile phone customized with Vitalbeat software. The patients were asked to record and transmit their body weight, blood pressure, pulse rate, symptoms, and adherence to medical therapy each day for three months.

To determine the feasibility of the solution, a combination of successful data transmissions from patients and data read by clinicians had to be achieved at least 66% of the time over the 90-day study. In fact, 74% of patients exceeded the feasibility goal, with 91% describing the monitoring system as easy to use.

These positive results demonstrate how IoT can improve post-care compliance rates to a high degree, leading to fewer readmissions and healthier outcomes.

Vitalbeat helps make them possible by monitoring health metrics, vital signs, medication, diet, symptoms, physical activity, and more. Patients and their doctors are notified by alerts and reminders based on goals and medical guidelines. As a result, patient outcomes are improved by:

  • Simplifying chronic care management and patient engagement
  • Reducing hospital readmissions and emergency room visits
  • Lowering costs for long-term chronic care

And given the need for medical institutions to be compliant with government regulations, the Vitalbeat solution has been designed to securely access patient electronic health records (EHR) and integrate medical documents and processes.

Streamlining Healthcare Solution Development

Intel IHAP provides extensibility and adaptability, which simplifies and speeds up how developers design and build new health solutions. It enabled Aventyn to quickly get its product into the hands of both doctors and patients to improve care management outcomes.

When coupled with the Flex IoT Compute Engine, IHAP offers a tuned hardware specification that facilitates customization without sacrificing predictability. This means that healthcare solution providers can focus on innovation.

Developers can also benefit through the platform’s ability to support hundreds of medical devices with third-party peripheral drivers, reducing the amount they spend on R&D. They can use the platform to accelerate development of mobile healthcare solutions by layering their own or other Android-based apps onto the platform, as well as by taking advantage of secure 3G connectivity with wireless devices.

IHAP also enables the design of IoT healthcare applications and devices with support for more than 200 protocols. For example, developers can build solutions that help monitor a patient’s heart rate, breathing capacity, blood glucose, and other metrics post-surgery.

Security features are built into IHAP. With privacy on the minds of the public, the platform has been designed to encrypt and store data right up to the point that it’s forwarded to the back-end location. That way patient and medical data remains the property of users; Intel® does not have ownership of data passed through the system.

The platform helps protect data at the edge and increases resiliency with Intel® SoC hardware root of trust. In addition, virtual machines use secure storage of the embedded multimedia controller. The platform transfers sensor data over Continua Bluetooth Low Energy and Continua Bluetooth Classic. And data to the cloud is transferred over Continua Design Guidelines HL7 FHIR. Together, these features help secure data.

System updates on a medical IoT device are more than just an inconvenience. They can harm a patient’s health. Fortunately, the platform can eliminate direct system updates when connected with peripherals.

Last, a global partner ecosystem offers hardware, software, and communication services for the platform, all of which easily integrate into a solution provider’s existing back end, making new products easier to design and build and be low-cost.

Leveraging Technology That Improves Health Outcomes

Developers and solution providers can use IHAP to advance healthcare technology that makes a difference in the lives of patients and their families. Using the platform for building new IoT healthcare devices can reduce the cost of R&D and increase commercialization opportunities. It also enables product compliance with HIPAA and other regulations while offering enterprise-grade stability, security, and longevity.

Robust medical devices and wearables, such as Aventyn’s Vitalbeat solution, are improving patient post-care compliance, reducing readmittance rates, and lowering the total cost of healthcare.

About the Author

Robert Moss is an independent consultant and strategist who focuses on the value gained through IoT, AI, machine learning and other technologies. He also helps give voice to executives at leading technology companies, enabling their personal stories to show how they encourage innovation, overcome obstacles, and improve their leadership skills. Tweets @RobertMoss_IoT

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