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AT&T, Nihon Kohden Expand Telemeter Wireless Networking Options

The AT&T Foundry has teamed with Nihon Kohden to retrofit Nihon’s LifeScope G3 telemeter worn by hospital patients to monitor their vital signs so that the device can toggle between Wi-Fi and cellular wireless networking connectivity.

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Source: Thinkstock

By Fred Donovan

- The AT&T Foundry has teamed with Nihon Kohden to retrofit Nihon’s LifeScope G3 telemeter worn by hospital patients to monitor their vital signs so that the device can toggle between Wi-Fi and cellular wireless networking connectivity.

This toggle capability contained in a “travel pack” enables patients to walk around areas of the hospital or on the hospital grounds where there is no Wi-Fi connectivity. The travel pack automatically switches between whichever signal is stronger to ensure that staff continue to receive patient vital signs.

Mobility after surgery is considered vital to recovery.

“Patient ambulation, the ability to walk from place to place independently with or without an assistive device, is necessary to improve joint and muscle strength, as well as prevent pressure ulcers during extended bed rest. It is a critical factor in improving patient well-being while in hospital, as well as reducing total length of stay,” explained the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety in a fact sheet.

In addition to the toggle capability, a GPS function was built into the travel pack to provide information on the patient’s location to the hospital staff. This enables staff to locate the patient should an alarm be triggered by the telemeter.

“Some vendors’ systems are not up to the latest technology. The investment in upgrading a lot of these older systems to the latest and greatest technology might be a little too costly. Nihon is a perfect example of AT&T working with vendors to give them additional capability. We modified something that they already have in place so that it can be used with the technology that's available today,” explained Maria Lensing, vice president of global healthcare solutions at AT&T.

“The foundry is our center of innovation. We have six centers of innovation around the world. That's where we bring third party vendors, and we work collaboratively to create solutions,” Lensing told HITInfrastructure.com.

AT&T also developed a web interface for managing the LifeScope G3 devices remotely. It integrates the G3 monitoring capabilities into the interface, which enables staff to visualize a patient’s status.

A visual dashboard allows the hospital to view a variety of patient and network data statistics. For example, hospital staff can view alerts on patient vitals like respiration and blood-oxygen content alongside device data usage and most frequently used network connection.

AT&T and Nihon Kohden are currently testing the travel pack in a hospital setting. The plan is to expand connectivity to the home and other areas, so that the patient can be monitored after he or she leaves the hospital.

In addition, AT&T worked with San Francisco-based Bodyport to develop a smart scale that can detect early signs of heart disease and transmit the data to a remote care team using the AT&T LTE-M cellular network.

LTE-M is a low-power wide-area technology built to support IoT device connectivity. It is secure and provides features that can lower power consumption to extend battery life and enhance coverage to connect hard-to-reach devices.

“A patient steps on the scale. A daily routine for most of us. And with that one simple step the Bodyport scale’s proprietary sensor technology captures electrical and mechanical heart function, data that is typically only available through in-clinic measures such as ECG and echocardiography,” Lensing explained in a blog post.

“The AT&T LTE-M cellular network enables the transmission of multiple biomarkers of cardiovascular function to a remote care team. This allows the clinician to determine in near real-time patient risk and status,” Lensing added.

Bodyport is performing clinical trials of the smart scale at several hospitals. The company is focusing on patients with cardiometabolic risk factors like high blood pressure and diabetes, and it is also monitoring heart failure patients to help clinicians identify those at highest risk of readmissions.

“I think this is exciting stuff. A daily routine can help care teams predict changes in health status, enable early interventions, and help keep patients healthy and out of the hospital,” Lensing concluded.

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