A digital plaster that can monitor patients’ vital signs is being trialled at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust for the first time.
The digital plaster from Toumaz Technology sticks to a patient’s chest and remotely monitors signs such as their temperature, heart rate and respiration in real-time.
The plaster can be used for around seven days and contains a small wireless, smart, ultra-low power sensor platform in a silicon chip.
It is hoped that as part of the trial, healthcare professionals will be able to download the information from the plaster using a mobile device, which will enable them to monitor any critical changes in a patient’s status. The data will also be able to be integrated into the patient’s electronic patient record.
Professor Chris Toumazou, who led the team that developed the plaster and the chief executive officer of Toumaz technology, said: “We think the plaster could revolutionise healthcare and we’re really excited to see it being tried out with patients for the first time.
“Ultimately, the plaster could mean that doctors can keep track of any worrying changes in patients’ vital signs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and then deal with any problems that arise really quickly.
“Fewer patients will have medical complications if doctors can spot health problems as soon as they arise and then treat each patient accordingly.”
The trial, which is being funded by CareFusion, will explore whether physiological data that doctors and nurses can obtain using the digital plaster system is equivalent to that which can be acquired using the current gold-standard monitors in hospitals.
It will be divided into three phases. The first will use non-patient volunteers and the next two phases will uses two patient study groups-one group that are recovering from surgery and the other who have specific medical conditions in general wards.
The trial will compare the results given by connecting the same patient that is using the plaster to the traditional machines.
The Hunterian Museum in London, part of the Royal College of Surgeons is displaying the digital plaster as part of its robotic surgery exhibition, which runs until 23 December.
Sarah Pearson, curator at the museum, told E-Health Europe: “People that come to the exhibition are always interested in the larger robots like the Da Vinci robot but this one has certainly been getting a lot of the attention.
“The way that the plaster is so tiny compared to all the machines that patients would usually be connected to is a real indication of the way that technology is getting smaller and more advanced.
“If it becomes commercially available it could replace the spot-checks that doctors and nurses carry out in wards and allow patients at home to live much more independently.”
The initial results of the trial are expected to be available by the end of December 2009.