App way to monitor health [New Straits Time (Malaysia)]
(New Straits Time (Malaysia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Mobile remote monitoring is the way forward in healthcare management, writes Izwan Ismail.
LIVING with chronic illness changes the lives of those affected who are often in need of support and nursing care. For family members and caregivers, providing constant attention is a challenge, especially if they have to work and do the housekeeping as well. They may even be staying a distance away.
However, home-bred healthcare solutions company Embedded Wireless Labs (EWL), has come out with an innovative solution to help cope with these problems.
REMOTE HEALTH MONITORING
The EWL product is expected to revolutionise the local healthcare industry in terms of health monitoring, hospital visits, getting advice on medication and attending to emergencies.
Its Zilant Health Server "communicates" with a range of Bluetooth- enabled medical devices like digital blood pressure monitor, glucometre, thermometer, digital weighing scale and Internet Protocol webcam.
It can connect to medical devices via wireless technologies gies such as 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth, ZigBee and VoIP.
By merging the wireless communications technology with medical devices and telecommunications service provider networks, the Zilant Health Server becomes integral to changing the remote monitoring of patients.
The solution works with Maxis' machine-to-machine (M2M) technology which allows capturing patients data remotely.
This means a patient's wellness and vital signs can be remotely captured by the healthcare provider and then monitored via any smartphone, tablet, PC or laptop.
EWL chairman Datuk Dr Salim Cassim says the solution changes health monitoring. Instead of going to the clinic or hospital, patients can now rest at home while doing their regular medical tests and the test data will be sent automatically to caregivers and family members.
This is because the medical devices can now "talk" to the Zilant server, which then relays the captured patients' data to health caregivers and family members.
Dr Salim says this is a breakthrough technology as far as the local healthcare industry is concerned. Before the advent of information and communications technology, monitoring patients with acute diseases like heart problems and diabetes was a tough job.
"I remember making house calls in medical emergency cases, but in some instances, it was already too late when I arrived," says Dr Salim, who has 40 years' experience as a general practitioner.
"But now, with remote healthcare monitoring solutions, the chances of saving lives are better."
Mobile healthcare service provider Love On Wheels Healthcare Services (LOWHS) is the first to adopt the EWL solution for its patients.
Clinical director Dr Premala Thambirajah says the solution offers a new healthcare service concept, which is borderless.
"Now we can get the health data of patients online and 'live', and send alerts and related advice. This way, patients are empowered to better care for themselves, and clinicians have real-time access to conditionspecific data. This sets a pathway for a new healthcare experience," says Dr Premala who adds that although Zilant is new, she believes it will take off soon.
Why? "Because people are living longer and the ageing population is growing bigger, while families are getting smaller," she says.
By 2030, we are expected to become one of the most ageing nations in the region.
"With a limited number of hospitals, one of the best ways to take care and monitor the elderly is from afar, via technology," she says.
The technology will also enable health caregivers to reach out to more people and minimise the need to send nurses out.
The Zilant solution is priced at RM4,000 for the server with a monthly service of RM157.
"The healthcare team from LOWHS will monitor the patients' health data and if something is wrong, the patient will be informed of the next action," says Dr Premala.
"The feedback from the health data analysis will be sent via SMS or e-mail, depending on customer preference," she says.
EWL healthcare innovation doesn't stop at the Zilant Health Server.
Dr Salim says the company is also very much into connected medical devices development like the connected digital weighing scale. Another major invention is a smart pendant called Mobile Personal Emergency Response System, which transmits emergency signals to loved ones and caregivers when pressed.
"People with heart problems, for example, can use this in case of an emergency when it's difficult to make calls or send SMS. By just pressing the pendant, the distress message will go out to the designated people. By having the early warning alerts, lives can be saved." says Dr Salim.
HOW IT WORKS
THE Zilant ser ver and Maxis' M2M solution is a combination of connectivity, healthcare, IT and software-as-a-service. It monitors patients remotely and prevent unwanted incidents.
Key features and benefits of the M2M Health Monitoring Solution include:
* Zilant Health Server with Maxis M2M connectivity, which captures patients' condition-specific data through Blue tooth- enabled medical devices
* Access to a patient's health data in real-time through an online patient monitoring portal accessible via web and mobile devices
* Setting a specific trigger to send notifications via SMS or email to doctors, healthcare personnel and caregivers
* Video-conferencing and in-portal discussion between doctors, health care personnel and patients
The idea to create such a system came about when German company Drager invited EWL to develop a chip that can connect medical devices.
In 2008, EWL, which used to develop back-end wireless solutions for telecommunications companies, moved into wireless medical technology solutions and produced the Zilant server.
It took EWL about six years to finally come out with the solution after putting it through rigorous tests in the US with AT&T, and locally with Maxis.
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