Remote patient monitoring worth US$8 billion by 2012

Advances in technology don’t always result in more complex products – sometimes the goal is simplification.

VivoMetrics (USA) has spent the past decade building a company around the use of lightweight vests that patients wear in clinical studies or animals wear in pre-clinical research to record vital signs and analyze the collected information. It’s called the LifeShirt. VivoMetrics

Remote patient monitoring allows medical staff to observe or diagnose patients in their home or work environments. The information can be used to intervene earlier, reduce costs and maintain a high quality of care. With an aging baby boomer population, more facilities releasing patients earlier to recover at home and a long list of chronic diseases that require long-term care, there are plenty of opportunities.

Wireless technology will allow constant updates of a patient’s condition; metallized fabric patches will monitor vital signs without the discomfort of sticky electrodes. Advances in computer, battery and sensor technology mean those components will be less intrusive. The electronic components can be detached and the shirt sent through the wash.

The idea is to have something the user can put on and wear with little thought of how it works or whether it’s working.

The heavy lifting will be done by those monitoring the information the shirt reports.

Toward that end, VivoMetrics recently entered into a partnership with OBS Medical, a company that provides software that helps hospital staff determine what actions to take based on a patient’s technical readings. The companies will work together to create software that will help caregivers interpret the information coming from the LifeShirt.