New software developed at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University creates a complete record of vital patients measurements allowing for in-depth analysis and better patient care. New software developed at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University creates a complete record of vital patients measurements allowing for in-depth analysis and better patient care. New software creates a complete record of patients' vitals, allowing for in-depth analysis and better patient care. (Photo: Tewan Banditrukkanka/Shutterstock)

Harvard docs create tool that can save lives

New technology helps hospitals better understand how patients respond to treatment.

Hospital patients are hooked up to a host of machines monitoring vital signs from heart rate to breathing rhythm, but there isn’t a way to regularly record and process all this data – until now. Researchers at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute have developed technology to record the data so it can be mined for clues to help further understand a condition, or to even assess how a patient is responding to treatment.

Wyss researcher John Osborne launched a company called MediCollector to license the technology. MediCollector has further developed the software into an independent, portable, user-friendly system capable of recording the data from a variety of patient monitors and devices directly onto a computer.

The company’s first customer is NanoVation-GS, a company spun out of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, which is using the software to monitor newborns affected by sleep apnea. NanoVation-GS is also working to develop a stick-on patch coated with a thin film of nanomaterial that contains a sensor to measure respiration, and is part of an international consortium of researchers that are creating an "electronic nose" that could sniff out cancer.

While the MediCollector software was being tested at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, researchers realized that the data-acquisition software had the potential to be used for a wide range of research and healthcare applications.

One Israeli company is using the software to monitor baby's with sleeping issues.One Israeli company is using the software to monitor babies with sleeping issues. (Photo: JetKat/Shutterstock)

“Many vital signs are collected today through electronic monitoring, but most such data are not yet saved by hospitals, which represents a major missed opportunity because the data could be used for multiple purposes,” Dr. David Bates, chief innovation officer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told The Boston Globe.

The software could eventually be trained to recognize patterns in the data, and alert doctors when there might be a problem. “While the initial application of MediCollector’s software will be research-focused, down the road, the company will build a larger portfolio in which the software is integrated with clinical alarm systems,” Osborne said.

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