According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the US, about 1,700 people die every day from heart disease. One of the main reason for the high number of deaths is the absence of timely and qualified assistance. Continuous health monitoring can save up to 60% of human lives through timely detection to prevent heart attacks.
It is obvious that ordinary people cannot always feel how close a heart attack is. Doctors and nurses are not able to care for a patient while the person is at home. One solution to this dilemma is a patient monitoring system. Could this really be true? Let's find out.
Reason #1: It is portable
Heart rates vary by age with young people usually have a higher heart rate than people over 60 years old. One common issue for every age group is that they are not very good at dealing with medical equipment. Also, larger, stationary monitoring equipment can only be used in hospitals while a patient is in bed. The need for a device, which allows patients to track their own health conditions is clear.
Qualities of a smart health monitoring systems:
Health monitoring system (HMS) using a microcontroller
A HMS that uses a microcontroller to track and process health data, could send an SMS to a doctor’s mobile phone or any family member who could provide emergency aid. The main advantage of this system is that a person could carry it everywhere because the device is small, light and wireless.
How it works
A transmitter receives physical signals of the heartbeat, processes the data and sends it to the ZigBee receiver unit through a wireless connection, and is in turn connected to a PC via USB. The receiver then transfers the data to a computer. How does the transmitter receive the signals? It uses a microcontroller which detects the user’s pulse and converts it to a voltage signal for further processing and display on a connected LCD.
Low-power operational amplifier
Analog-to-digital converter (ADC)
This system can determine body temperature using an integrated circuit sensor that measures temperature more precisely than a thermometer.
PC Software stores the data in a database and displays the voltage values in real-time using metrics and graphics. It monitors health conditions checking whether the metrics stay within predefined limits.
If the reading go outside of the defined range, the software sends a notification to a doctor’s mobile phone. Medical staff are then able to take the necessary steps to respond. Adding additional sensors can make a multi-functional health monitoring system.
Reason #2: It can monitor health conditions all the time
People use HMSs in hospitals and clinics, for home care and to track the vitals of athletes including their heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. All this data can be tracked by various sensors integrated into the HMS.
Health issues are occurring more frequently than 30 years ago because of industrialization, climate change and technical progress that has led to decreased physical activity. Saving lives requires monitoring the health conditions of people who have chronic diseases or heart-related problems daily. Detecting problems early can extend lives and reduce morbidity from disease.
Health monitoring system using a wearable sensor
An HMS like this is similar to the one we have been discussing. The main difference is that the sensors to measure body temperature, blood pressure or a heartbeat rate, are placed on a patient’s body with a strap, without any wires. Protocols such as Bluetooth or ZigBee are good for short distance wireless data transmission.
This solution can be more convenient for patients because of the sensor is wireless and hands-free. Each wireless sensor device contains a transceiver and a set of sensors.
The wireless sensor device contains:
Electrodermal activity sensor (EDA sensor)
Electromyography sensor (EMG sensor)
Data transmission between sensors and a microcontroller unit (MCU) is done through a single packet. Its size and length are fully configurable.
This HMS does not require the user to carry a bulky device to track this data. A wearable sensor allows the user to carry out their everyday routine while tracking significant health vitals. This is especially useful to monitor health condition of patients who have memory problems. Whatever they are doing, the device measure their vitals parameters and send data to the main system. These factors remove the question of whether to develop special software to monitor patient health.
Reason #3: It can be cheaper than existing solutions
The cost-effectiveness of the solution is one of the main factors when deciding to develop an HMS. Either way, the number of lives that could be saved depends on whether they have the necessary tools. This is why development a system that only has the necessary functions will help reduce expenses on the HMS design.
Another aspect that can reduce costs is using easily accessible, widely used and fully configurable components to develop the HMS. Using programmable components removes the likelihood that you will choose an inconvenient, non-cost-effective device for the system. The best solution is to build a healthcare monitoring system based on FPGA.
Health monitoring system using FPGA
FPGA is the field-programmable gate array. It is an integrated circuit that is programmable by developers or customers after production. This is why it is called field-programmable. FPGA is designed to be programmable by changing the functional logic of the principal circuit using HDL which is hardware description language.
FPGA contains three main programmable elements:
Programmable logic blocks
FPGA can be programmed with Verilog HDL (Hardware Description Language). Verilog HDL transmits data to the PC through a graphical user interface. Therefore, data transmission depends on the necessary clock period and a clock oscillator.
Why is FPGA-based HMS cost-effective?
An HMS using this technology would contain a low-cost, analog-to-digital converter (ACD) which is used to transform an analog signal into a digital one. Digitization allows users to connect the FPGA to the entire system.
The main advantage of the FPGA is the ability to reconfigure it after it has been manufactured. This helps fix bugs easier and more quickly. Moreover, the array take less time to go from the drawing board to market. (time to market or TTM). FPGA also has lower non-recurring engineering costs. This means that manufactures only pay for research, design, building and testing once.
Reason #4: It simplifies health monitoring for medical staff
A simple system is most useful when it comes to monitoring health conditions of a particular patient. This patient can stay at home and people close-by or doctors on duty will always be updated to respond to emergencies.
However, medical organizations have many patients and using a system like this for each patient is not cost-effective or efficient. They need one advanced system to monitor everyl patient in a facility. This is why a health monitoring system for hospitals is needed, so that the HMS would be able to store and recognize data for each patient.
E-health monitoring architecture
E-heath monitoring architecture contains various layers which are based on the functionality of the elements that are used in the system. It uses cloud-based technology to store and analyse the data.
E-health monitoring systems consist of three main layers:
E-health application and service layer
This layer contains different medical and environmental sensors to collect data in real-time. Medical sensors measure patients’ vitals while environmental ones measure indicators, which can influence a patient’s condition, such as the oxygen level or temperature of the room.
Sensors collect data and relay it to a processing device. This device attaches a unique ID, timestamp and other information for each data unit. The system can then match data units with specific patients to determine which information block corresponds to each patient. Then the processing device transmits the data to the next layer using any short range data transferring technology: ZigBee, Power Line Communicator, Bluetooth or Local Area Network (LAN).
This layer includes various application programming interfaces (APIs). The HMS could store data using cloud technology, which provides access to a patient’s medical history and current health records. In fact, the API layer is the main part of the whole e-health monitoring system. It is a layer that stores new patient health information by creating a profile using one API, and displays existing medical history for a previously registered patient using another API. The cloud data can be transmitted to a Gateway using optical fibers, Wi-Fi or even UMTS.
The service layer contains an e-health application to analyze the data received and suggest actions to stabilize the patient’s condition or generate a prescription. This layer analyses data based on an integrated algorithm, which can also include a comparison with other patients’ experiences or previous health trends of the current patient.
It allows health care professional to provide patients with higher quality advice and more efficient suggestions. This layer is responsible for notifying medical staff about a patient’s condition in case of an emergency or if urgent help is needed.
Reason #5: It is multifunctional
The multi-functionality of the HMS provides medical staff with timely information and suggestions to stabilize a patient.
Services of the HMS
The data received from the sensors is stored in a cloud database. The data from the sensors is then processed in two ways:
The first way means processing data on the PC to detect abnormalities immediately and take the necessary steps before the patient reaches a hospital. On-server processing requires more resources for processing but it provides more accurate analysis.
An HMS like this provides the following services:
Cloud storage services
Real-time action suggestions
Emergency response services
Parental monitoring services
Hospital services. The HMS monitors both vital and environmental parameters to detect patient deterioration and provide timely and urgent care. Both audible and visual signals notify medical staff more quickly.
Cloud storage services. Cloud technology is used for secure storage of medical history: medicine prescriptions, medical reports, conditions caused by particular allergies and so on. The prefered format to store this data is XML files.
Real-time health advice. The system can analyze the data received from the sensors. If it forecasts further patient deterioration or life threatening conditions, the system checks the current condition to see if it has appeared earlier, analyses whether the actions taken were effective and makes suggestions based on previous experience.
Emergency response services. There are emergency situations when a different specialist is needed. If the situation is serious and a threat to life exists, a doctor is required. If the situation is less serious, and caregivers are able to help the patient, they are the only ones who will be notified about the emergency.
Parental monitoring services. A mobile app could be developed that receives updates from the API layer to notify a patient’s relatives about their health.
A Health monitoring system is an efficient tool that can save human lives. It is fully configurable and can be developed to your particular needs and requirements, which makes it useful and cost-effective for both hospitals and domestic use. Archer-Soft has wide medical software expertise that has been improving for last 10 years due to their partnership with Medoc (Israel), a leader of medical neurodiagnostic system development.
Provide professional healthcare services with the hospital health monitoring software development experts! For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.