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University of Hull researchers develop new health monitoring device

A series of wearable, handheld and non-intrusive devices to monitor patients’ temperature, respiration, heartbeat, ECG, blood pressure, and other vital signs have been developed by researchers at the University of Hull.

Researchers at the University of Hull, in collaboration with colleagues at Yanshan University in Qinhuangdao and Tongji University in Shanghai, and UK industrial partners, have developed this smart solution to address the growing pressures on public healthcare systems and provide remote monitoring and valuable, round-the-clock reassurance to patients.

The research team, led by Dr Yongqiang Cheng, has developed the wearable and handheld devices to provide continuous, non-intrusive monitoring and data is captured through the device’s advanced sensory technology. This is then analysed using Machine learning and AI algorithms to identify long-term health conditions and to track any change/deterioration over time.

Dr Cheng, a reader in the School of Computer Science in the Faculty of Science and Engineering, said: “The greying of the global population represents a challenge for both developed and developing societies. An ageing society places immense pressure upon public healthcare systems. More advanced methods – such as these non-intrusive devices for remote monitoring of patients – is one mechanism for relieving this strain.”

Yongqiang Cheng
Dr Yongqiang Cheng – University of Hull

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has projected that 1 in 6 people in the world will be aged 60 years or over by 2030. Most aging people are living with long-term conditions needing continuous monitoring. Since aging people tend to live independently with very little contact with family, an incident when they are alone at home or a decline in health which goes undetected is potentially catastrophic.

An ageing population imposes many challenges – not least to provide convenient, accurate and reliable care, as well as monitoring solutions.

While there are expensive medical devices used in hospitals operated by medical professionals, they are not suitable for use at home on daily basis. Similarly, there are smart watches or wearables that can be purchased to measure daily activities, however, their limitations of what can be monitored, and their accuracy and reliability make them unsuitable for medical purposes.

This project was designed to bridge the gap, to provide monitoring devices used for medical applications. They can be operated without the presence of medical professionals, and can offer assistance to doctors or carers for diagnosis.

In order to ensure suitability of use, Dr Cheng worked with both general practitioners in the public health care system, and industrial partners experienced in providing customer-facing healthcare solutions.

Crucially, for Dr Cheng, the data captured through the device will be both communicated to the user through an app, and interpreted in an accessible way. This enables both people with chronic disease, as well as care home staff, to play a more direct role in the monitoring of patient health and well-being.

On the potential of the devices, Dr Cheng said: “The devices we developed will enable users to take readings anytime, anywhere. This will not only raise their awareness and understanding of their own health, but it will also allow the data to be shared with doctors and caregivers for review.

“The devices have high potential to open up a wide range of opportunities in many sectors of the care industry, especially benefiting the ageing population. We anticipate they will prevent the occurrence of clinical incidents and limit their severity for the user through predictive and preventative care.”

It is anticipated that the wearable and handheld devices will be used within the NHS in the UK as well as in care homes and private households, where a level of self-care is required.

The project is funded by Innovate UK as a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), working with industrial collaborators Network Communication Systems Ltd (NCS), RedFox, and Tioga Electronic Assembly.

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