Background The recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa strained existing healthcare systems well beyond their capacities due to the extreme volume and severity of illness of the patients. The implementation of innovative digital technologies within available care centres could potentially improve patient care as well as healthcare worker safety and effectiveness.
Methods We developed a Modular Wireless Patient Monitoring System (MWPMS) and conducted a proof of concept study in an Ebola treatment centre (ETC) in Makeni, Sierra Leone. The system was built around a wireless, multiparametric ‘band-aid’ patch sensor for continuous vital sign monitoring and transmission, plus sophisticated data analytics. Results were used to develop personalised analytics to support automated alerting of early changes in patient status.
Results During the 3-week study period, all eligible patients (n=26) admitted to the ETC were enrolled in the study, generating a total of 1838 hours of continuous vital sign data (mean of 67.8 hours/patient), including heart rate, heart rate variability, activity, respiratory rate, pulse transit time (inversely related to blood pressure), uncalibrated skin temperature and posture. All patients tolerated the patch sensor without problems. Manually determined and automated vital signs were well correlated. Algorithm-generated Multivariate Change Index, pulse transit time and arrhythmia burden demonstrated encouraging preliminary findings of important physiological changes, as did ECG waveform changes.
Conclusions In this proof of concept study, we were able to demonstrate that a portable, deployable system for continuous vital sign monitoring via a wireless, wearable sensor supported by a sophisticated, personalised analytics platform can provide high-acuity monitoring with a continuous, objective measure of physiological status of all patients that is achievable in virtually any healthcare setting, anywhere in the world.
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