L.The Montreal Children’s Hospital could soon become one of the first in the world, if not the first, to wirelessly monitor the vital signs of its little patients, improving their quality of life and simplifying the job of caregivers. .
For example, a premature baby admitted to intensive care is currently attached to monitors that display his heart rate, skin temperature, and oxygen levels in his blood. Another sensor will sound the alarm for sleep apnea.
The aim of the project is to take advantage of technological advancements to eliminate all of these threads without compromising the quality of care provided.
“This is a project that we have been thinking about for a few years,” said one of the project managers, Dr. Guilherme Sant’Anna. We are essentially trying to innovate by developing a new technology that can pick up the important signals from the patient and send them to wireless monitors.
“Then you would use artificial intelligence or machine learning to store and analyze these signals.”
The project, which will run for five or six years, is still in its infancy. It is supported by the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation at a cost of $ 6 million.
The first patients who could benefit are those who are often considered the sickest and most vulnerable in the hospital, said Dr. Sant’Anna.
“Neonatal intensive care patients are the most complex and the most critical,” he said. Once it works with these babies, it will be easy to move on ”.
For example, the absence of a son could make it easier for the parents of these babies to stick to them to give them that much-needed human contact.
Elderly patients could potentially enjoy much greater mobility, whether traveling elsewhere in the hospital or even going home while their health is still remotely taken care of.
For health professionals, the creation of such a ‘smart hospital’ would facilitate access to patients when it comes time to provide care. Vital signs would also be automatically recorded, giving nurses the freedom to enter them otherwise in writing.
“The wires also need maintenance to prevent infections, they need to be cleaned,” said Dr. Sant’Anna. It is much more time-consuming to have all that around the patient. “
Artificial intelligence could finally support doctors in making clinical decisions and even warn of possible unwanted side effects.
When you realize that a system that only monitors the heart rate – and nothing else – of babies in the intensive care unit can cost at least $ 1 million, interest in developing a more versatile system (and one that will eventually be sold to other hospitals ) soon becomes clear.
Doctor Sant’Anna and his colleagues have been thinking about this project for about fifteen years.
“In our daily life, technology keeps improving, it’s moving so fast that we told ourselves we needed something better for our patients,” he explained. The way we monitor our patients is still very simple compared to other technologies. “
That said, the task of the work that awaits them is huge because it seems like nothing like this has ever been done anywhere else in the world and so they are essentially starting all over again.
The Montreal Children’s Hospital could therefore be the first to try to determine whether technologies currently available on the market can be combined and used to improve patient care.
“Several companies develop systems around the world,” explains Dr. Sant’Anna. But when we put them all together, we have to see if they work as well or better than what we already have. You have to compare current technology with new technology. It gives us confidence that it will work and we can give more space to the project. ”
If all goes well, the first practical applications of the project can take place within six months.