Monitoring heartbeats and saving lives

11 July 2011

This low cost wireless cardiac monitor resembles a lightweight bandage strip that adheres to a patient's body
This low cost wireless cardiac monitor resembles a lightweight bandage strip that adheres to a patient's body

Low cost wireless ECG cardiac monitor can save lives and cut healthcare costs.

Developed by British medical services start-up Isansys, and based on the Nordic nRF24AP2 ANT chip, the LifeTouch HRV011 cardiac monitor supports low cost yet continuous, clinical-grade ECG monitoring.

It can be used to detect post cardiac arrest and other problems when they are usually straightforward to treat, avoiding life-threatening and costly emergency room re-admissions.

By making the most costly elements of the Isansys LifeTouch HRV011 ECG wireless monitor recyclable, its application cost can fall (with repeated usage) to just a few tens of cents. In operation, the HRV011 resembles a lightweight bandage strip that adheres to a patient's body and analyses the ECG signal of every heartbeat in four to five times more detail than that required for a wired ECG monitor.

From this data, a proprietary algorithm running within an on-board ARM Cortex-based microcontroller is used to calculate key physiological parameters – including respiration rate and R-to-R peak intervals – to rapidly detect problems. Redundancy is also built-in because collected data is securely transmitted to a web-based HL7-compliant database.

This low cost wireless cardiac monitor resembles a lightweight bandage strip that adheres to a patient's body
This low cost wireless cardiac monitor resembles a lightweight bandage strip that adheres to a patient's body

The Nordic nRF24AP2's performance and use of the proven, ultra low power ANT wireless protocol help enable the LifeTouch HRV011 to achieve a battery operating life of up to 100 hours from a regular CR2032 coin cell battery under continuous usage conditions. It also offers high interference immunity in challenging (active Bluetooth and Wi-Fi) 2.4GHz RF operating environments.

"This product will mean that healthcare providers could save thousands of lives and slash millions of dollars from their over-stretched budgets," says Keith Errey, CEO at Isansys. "At present nearly one in three patients that are discharged from intensive care wards will suffer a relapse of some kind, often within a week or so of discharge. Our devices and services provide an early warning of adverse events, and thus allow earlier and generally less costly and traumatic interventions compared to an emergency re-admission into intensive care. Until now there has been no low cost solution to this problem. And given that in the US many major medical insurers from next year are saying that they will start treating many re-admissions as a failure on the part of the hospital and so not be liable for any further emergency room costs, our solution – which is commercially available now – could not be more timely."

Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor's Director of Sales & Marketing commented: "It's an unfortunate reality that ageing populations and an explosion in lifestyle-related health problems such as obesity and linked conditions such as type-2 diabetes, are placing crippling financial burdens on government healthcare budgets, healthcare providers, and insurers. This situation is only going to worsen and is in desperate need of innovative technological solutions such as this low cost, wireless cardiac monitor from Isansys."


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