Dr Peter Short and Dr Manpreet Pujara
Patient’s heart being monitored via bed sheet.

Philips Research is to pilot a new bed with built-in sensors and the ability to measure heart rate, breathing rate and body movement of a patient whilst they sleep.

It is hoped the bed could help with the treatment of heart conditions.

The four-year pilot will be part of a €20.7m EU funded research project aimed at improving care of heart patients through the development of innovative telemonitoring solutions.

A Philips spokesperson told E-Health Insider: “These systems will comprise of unobtrusive sensors built into the patient’s clothing or bed sheets and home appliances such as weight scales and blood pressure monitors. The consortium aims to develop dedicated software that analyses the acquired data, and that can be programmed to provide feedback on the patient’s health status, plus his or her adherence to prescribed therapies and progress towards achieving health status milestones.

“It also aims to develop mechanisms to report relevant data back to clinicians automatically so that they can prescribe personalised therapies and lifestyle recommendations. Public and private partners from eighteen research, academic, industrial and medical organisations from nine different European countries and China will team up in the project.”

The HealthCycle pilot follows the earlier MyHeart project, by Philips Research, which developed the bed and clothing concepts.

Patients can sleep in their bed and be weighed by an electronic weight scale, as well as have their blood pressure monitored by the embedded sensors.

Wearing a specially designed vest, with woven-in electrodes, electro-cardiogram readings can be taken. If results are abnormal, doctors can act immediately in attempting to prevent cardiac arrest.

Professor John Cleland, chief medical officer of the HeartCycle project., said: “The greatest challenge and opportunity for the management of long-term medical conditions is to help patients to help themselves. Investing directly in people who need help, and not just in services that do things to or for them, makes sense in terms of improved care, greater affordability and the effective deployment of scarce nursing and medical resources.”

The EU hopes the programme can help to tackle cardiovascular disease, which currently kills around 1.9m people every year in the EU, with the associated annual health costs estimated at €105 billion. Around half of these deaths occur in people who have previously had a heart attack, most of whom will develop heart failure before they die.

Using devices like this, and sending information for analysis via a telephone line or broadband could help to reduce this problem, Philips say.

Henk van Houten, senior vice president of Philips Research and head of the healthcare research program, said: “By developing systems that remotely monitor heart patients and motivate them to adhere to treatment regimes and adopt beneficial lifestyles, we hope to improve the survival of people with heart disease as well as to contain the overall cost of care.

“The development of such systems can only be achieved efficiently via multi-disciplinary partnerships between hardware engineers, software engineers, textile manufacturers, industrial designers, clinical experts and healthcare providers, as is the case in the HeartCycle project.”

Initially the study will evaluate how effective telemonitoring devices are at spotting early warning signs of problems in patients with heart failure. Ultimately, it is hoped the technology will improve patient compliance with medication and lifestyle therapies, which can then be extended to other patient groups.

It is not yet known which EU countries involved in the four-year project will be chosen to test the technology, thought the project will start on 1 March and Philips say it is one of the largest biomedical and healthcare research projects within the EU.


Philips MyHeart project

Philips HeartCycle project