Reducing Overcrowding in Hospitals May Be Possible With This Wearable Patch

The patch will be able to monitor patients' vitals from a distance.
Fabienne Lang

Many hospitals around the world have been incredibly busy this year during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading many scientists and researchers to develop or find suitable methods to minimize overcrowding in hospital facilities.

One such method may be a wearable patch that monitors patients' health vitals remotely, sending signals back to doctors from a distance. 

The wearable patch is the product of an international team of researchers with business and technical backgrounds.


Lowering hospitalizations

One of the main reasons for finding ways to minimize overcrowded hospitals is that there simply aren't enough beds for everyone. The next big reason is that it pushes medical workers to their working limits: exhausting them, overworking them, and putting them in danger.

So placing a wearable patch that monitors patients' vitals sounds like a decent idea. 

This isn't the first time wearables or remote assistance are developed in order to lower hospitalizations, monitor health vitals, and keep health workers at a safe distance from potentially infected people. Spot the Boston Dynamics robot dog has been put to work in certain hospitals, and MIT developed a wearable sensor that can be sewn into clothes to monitor vitals. 

However, this is one of the first times a direct patch that can be placed on a patient to monitor their vitals from afar is being developed.

Monitoring less severe cases from afar

The team of researchers that developed the patch calls itself Postlytics, and first came together in 2019 at the Global Grand Challenges Summit’s (GGCS’19) Innovation Hackathon Co-Lab. 

Postlytics' wearable patch would assist clinicians to monitor patients with less severe cases from afar, lowering the need for hospitalizations, and thus keeping hospital beds free for more severe cases. This is especially crucial during the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

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The patch isn't only being developed for the pandemic. However, it has become a main point for the team, as Jessica Zamarripa, a team member who is also a graduate student at Texas A&M University, has explained, "Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we certainly did consider the potential use of our idea to help infectious diseases. With the onset of the pandemic the team decided to primarily focus on pivoting to help the COVID-19 situation."

The patch monitors vitals such as temperature, cough detection, heart rate, and electrocardiogram. All this information is then transferred in real-time to a health care professional, who's able to keep an eye on the patient from a distance. This enables patients recovering from COVID-19, or in the early stages of the illness, to stay at or be sent home.

The next steps for the team are to build and test a prototype of the upcoming wearable, as well as apply for patents, and begin the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) process. 

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