IIT Kharagpur has come up with a one-of-a-kind lifesaver technology that can be fitted in an ambulance to ensure remote monitoring of patient condition by the doctors even before they reach the hospital!
This technology named “AmbuSens” has been developed in the SWAN lab of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) at IIT Kharagpur. AmbuSens is capable of wireless monitoring of various physiological parameters like ECG, heart-rate, temperature and blood-pressure. The system utilizes a unique hashing-based mechanism (patent filed) to preserve patient’s data confidentiality while simultaneously using the analytic and computing power of cloud computing. The web interface of the AmbuSens system provides an easy-to-use graphical interface for doctors and paramedics alike with data visualization tools such as real-time ECG graph rendering and can be accessed from internet-enabled laptops, tablets and smartphones.
“There is no such technology at present that can help doctors at remote at the hospital to continuously monitor the condition of the patient when the later is on the move. This technology will be a boon for the referral patients who are transported from a hospital in remote area to a city hospital. Currently in such situations apart from family members, a medical technician companies a critical patient on an ambulance. But this technician has limited knowledge. Now with the doctors being able to monitor the patients on transit they can suggest medical interventions to the technician. This can be life saving,” said the principal investigator for developing this system Prof. Sudip Misra, Department of CSE, IIT Kharagpur.
The embedded system of AmbuSens includes both hardware and software. The system currently leverages wireless on-body sensors, cellular (3G/4G) and wireless technologies (Wi-Fi) and cloud computing to achieve seamless real-time monitoring and management of patient data. In future the system will work even with irregular Internet connection.
Here is how AmbuSens works – the referred hospital and the referee hospital as well as the ambulance will have laptops or tablets with internet connection. The patient will be fitted with wireless body sensors, which will help doctors of both referred and referee hospitals to continuously monitor the health condition of the ambulatory patients in real-time. Apart from monitoring critical patients referred from one hospital to the other an ambulance fitted with AmbuSens can be life saving for accident victims or cardiac patients who need to be transported to the hospital immediately.
This technology is several steps ahead of telemedicine where the doctor can see the patients but do not have wireless real time monitoring of their health condition. “We conducted successful field trials of the developed system at All India institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bhubaneswar and BC Roy technological hospital (BCRTH), IIT Kharagpur. The trials were conducted on various patients (both male and female) admitted in intensive care unit (ICU), cardiac unit and patients coming for normal health check-up (OPD). Patients within age group of 10-70 years were considered for the trials. The duration of trial for each patient was around 20-30 minutes,” said Prof. Misra.
The researchers are currently working on further upgrading AmbuSens so that in future the technology can ensure advance prediction of a likely to have emergency (like cardiac arrest) of the patient in the immediate future. This will enable patients to get care before onset of emergency, potentially saving lives. Several sensors are also being developed to help monitor many more health parameters of the patients on the move.
A state government from Northern part of India has already shown interest in this technology to help monitoring patient conditions in difficult terrains where the number of hospitals are limited.
The principal investigator for the development of this system was Prof. Sudip Misra, Department of CSE, IIT Kharagpur. The co-investigators were Dr. I. Banerjee (BCRT Hospital, IIT Kharagpur) and Dr. Saurav Sarkar (AIIMS Bhubaneswar). The project staffs who worked on it are Niloy Saha, Subhadeep Sarkar, and Pradyumna Kumar Bishoyi.
The salient features of the AmbuSens system are as follows:
- Telemedicine and Remote Healthcare: Utilizes wireless on-body sensors for improved mobility and user-convenience. Enables easy trend tracking and remote monitoring by specialized medical personnel without having to be physically present.
- Improved Emergency Response Time: Instant remote monitoring and feedback by the skilled medical professionals to paramedics for improved emergency diagnosis and treatment.
- Real Time Patient Status Monitoring: Continuous real-time monitoring of the patient from anywhere with internet connectivity provides up-to-date feedback about the status of the patient, and enables improved collaboration among hospitals.
- Cloud-based Digitized Medical History: Consistent cloud-based digital record-keeping system, which is fully privacy-aware and is accessible by all authenticated users across various healthcare facilities.
Future directions for the AmbuSens system
- Warning before heart attack occurs will be possible in the future, based on gathered data.
- The system will work even with irregular Internet connection.
- Various others sensors including but not limited to Pulse Oximeter (SpO2) will be added.
- There will be options to add scans of existing medical records (e.g. X-rays) to the system to that doctors can access patients' data from one single place.