A new wearable 'vital signs' monitor that can directly send alerts to medical staff if a patient’s condition is deteriorating is being trialled in the UK.
The lightweight patch made by British company Sensium Healthcare is being trialled at St James's University Hospital in Leeds and features sensors that can monitor patients' heart rate, breathing and temperature.
The ultra low-power SensiumVitals patch takes a reading every two minutes, which is sent wirelessly to the hospital’s IT system. If readings exceed a pre-set threshold, an alert will then be sent to nurses on their handheld device warning them that the patient may be in danger.
Professor David Jayne, who is leading the trial, said: "Post-surgery, patients' health can deteriorate rapidly. In these circumstances, it is important that clinicians are able to intervene as quickly as possible.
"The SensiumVitals wireless monitoring system has the potential to play an important role in improving patient care in this area.
"During the evaluation, the system will be compared with standard hospital monitoring to determine if it allows earlier detection of post-operative complications. If successful, the project will inform larger studies involving the technology throughout the NHS."
The trial, which will be funded by the National Institute for Health Research, will focus on roughly 100 post-operative patients in two colorectal surgery wards - a group vulnerable to rapid deterioration. The study will investigate the clinical benefits of the system, its economic benefits and the patients' opinions of the device.
According to the manufacturer, the early warning offered by the device improves patient safety, reduces the need for more expensive treatments and shortens hospital stays. It also allows patients to move around freely while being monitored, which the company claims aids a swift recovery.
George Freeman, Minister for Life Sciences, said: “This latest trial has the potential to bring huge benefits to patients and staff and highlights why the NHS is the ideal place to test new digital technologies.
“We are committed to supporting new medical innovations which is why we invest £1bn a year in the National Institute for Health Research, helping to introduce the latest innovations into the healthcare system as quickly as possible.”