Remote sensing of vital signs in Ebola Treatment Units

Steven Steinhubl, MD

Steven Steinhubl, MD, wearing Personal Protective Equipment at an ETU run by the International Medical Corp, in Makeni, Sierra Leone

Recognizing that the developing world is especially well suited to serve as a proving ground for the benefits of digital technologies, the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) has initiated projects in low-resource communities overseas.

The first was a proof-of-concept study that used wireless sensors and personalized analytics to continuously monitor patients admitted to an Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) in Sierra Leone. Funded through the Ebola Grand Challenge (sponsored by the USAID, CDC and White House), this study sought to apply innovative approaches to increasing the protection and comfort of health care workers in ETUs.

By partnering with PhysIQ and Rhythm Diagnostic Systems, STSI developed a solution that enabled health care workers to remotely obtain important information regarding critical changes in patients’ physiological parameters. The solution included the use of the MultiSense sensor that uses Bluetooth to continuously stream a patient’s physiological data to a computer, or mobile device, allowing for real-time monitoring. This was combined with PhysIQ’s Personalized Physiology Analytics software, which allows health workers to measure a patient’s physiological parameters against their own baseline, enabling them to more accurately identify if and when changes occur in a patient’s physiologic status, even before symptoms manifest.

It’s remarkable how we’re able to leapfrog a generation of health care, in low resource settings such as Sierra Leone, because of what mobile technology allows you to do.

Steven Steinhubl, MD

Director, Digital Medicine