Communication infrastructure for patient monitoring

Writer: Pieter Crombez, Innovation Manager Televic Healthcare

Today’s healthcare system is under pressure. Policies push care institutions to increase their efficiency & quality of care. At the same time, there exists a shortage in nursing staff required to take care of those patients. Advances in technology will be required in order to optimize the health system performance and meet the goal of Quadruple aim: to enhance patient experience, improve population health, reduce costs and improve the work life of healthcare workers.

Within the NextPerception project, new technologies for patient monitoring are investigated leveraging new methodologies in terms of wireless communication, distributed processing and algorithms.

Televic Healthcare is offering professional communication systems within the care sector for nurse call, patient localization and mobile alarming. It’s latest innovation, the AQURA platform, offers communication infrastructure installed in hospitals and care facilities to connect patients reliably with caregivers. In addition, the platform captures triggers from devices and sensors in order to monitor the condition of the patient and bring actionable insights and efficiency to healthcare teams.

In this project, Televic Healthcare is researching its next generation care communication infrastructure based on a wireless communication network building on a Bluetooth Low Energy mesh network. This network should support different applications related to patient monitoring: reliable alarming when a patient requests for help, room level accurate indoor localization, and advanced activity classification based on radar signals. The purpose is to reuse infrastructure for different applications in order to reduce the overall investment. Therefore it is fundamental that reliability can be ensured. A novel quality-of-service (QoS) mechanism on top of BLE mesh will ensure that different applications do not disturb each other and that the network can be dynamically reconfigured depending on the application requirements. Figure 1 shows the deployment in a care facility with a mesh network of room beacons.

Figure 1: Open communication infrastructure based on a Bluetooth Mesh network for alarming, positioning and monitoring

Capturing more context data about patients in case of an alarm but also just to follow up on a patient is key in order to improve quality of care. Therefore, Televic Healthcare is collaborating with KULeuven to investigate the feasibility of activity classification based on a FMCW radar. The concept is to integrate such radar in a room beacon. At this moment, the optimal configuration of the DSP pipeline of such radar chip is being determined and a classifier running locally on the node based on machine learning techniques is under development as shown in Figure 2.

Data processing pipeline

Figure 2: Data processing pipeline for radar based activity classification.

In addition, the radar can be reconfigured autonomously based on the parameters to monitor. Figure 3 shows typical activities that can be detected. When laying down in the bed, the radar is reconfigured to measure vital signs.

Targeted activities for patient monitoring

Figure 3: Targeted activities for patient monitoring.

Within the NextPerception project, Televic Healthcare is further working together with other Flemish partners (KULeuven, COMmeto and Pozyx ) on a joint pilot. Interested readers can get more detail about this in our public deliverable D4.5 First Pilot Evaluation Reports.

It is clear that the technological outcomes from NextPerception is an enabler for Televic Healthcare to offer context based alarming and care communication leveraging activity monitoring and positioning data using a single infrastructure (reducing ROI). Having a reliable BLE network will allow to interact with mobile devices from care givers, patients and visitors making their infrastructure ready for the future. This is exactly the ambition of NextPerception.