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IIT-Kgp develops telemedicine on the move

The technology will allow doctors to monitor vital parameters of the patients even as he is ferried in an ambulance to the hospital.

kolkata Updated: Jun 03, 2017 14:40 IST
IIT Kharagpur,Telemedicine,Ambulance
A team of IIT-Kgp developed the technology after a trial of two years. A hospital inside the campus also collaborated in the project.(HT Photo)

The time required to move critical patients from home to hospital, and from one hospital to another, often proves too costly for many patients. While many have been looking for ambulances fitted with telemedicine facilities, an IIT Kharagpur team has claimed to have developed one.

The technology works on wireless body sensors connected with internet and cloud computing.

Read: Coming soon to IIT Kharagpur: A course in Vastu Shastra

Researchers think it would help victims of accident and cardiac arrest the most.

File picture. Ambulances will have a technician who will respond to the doctor’s instructions to take care of the patient if his condition warrants it. ( HT Photo )

The technology, which has been named AmbuSens, will allow doctors to monitor ECG, heart-rate, temperature and blood-pressure of patients moving in ambulances and fitted with wireless sensors. This, in turn, will enable doctors to advise technicians travelling with the patient to deal with the situation.

“There is no such technology at present that can help doctors to continuously monitor patients on the move. The web interface of the AmbuSens system provides an easy-to-use graphical interface for doctors and paramedics alike with data visualisation tools such as real-time ECG graph. It can be accessed from internet-enabled laptops, tablets and smartphones,” said Sudip Misra, a professor at the department of Computer Science and Engineering, Kharagpur, who led the project.

Doctors Indranath Banerjee of BCRT Hospital, IIT Kharagpur and Saurav Sarkar of AIIMS, Bhubaneshwar collaborated for the project.

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“We have utilised our expertise in the field of Internet of Things (IoT) to create a connected framework that enables patients, doctors and paramedics to have instant access to real-time medical data though the use of any internet connected devices capable of running a web browser (including smartphones and tablets) . The framework enables wireless connectivity to state-of-the-art medical sensors, secure privacy-aware cloud-based data storage as well as cloud based analytics,” he added.

Preliminary clinical trials of AmbuSens framework were first carried out on emergency room patients at B.C. Roy Technology Hospital at IIT Kharagpur campus in July 2016 and then at AIIMS, Bhubaneshwar, in December.

“The AmbuSens data was verified to be at par with the traditional system and successfully reflected aberrations in ECG tracings of patients. There was no loss of data when internet connectivity snapped during transport of the patient and the system started generating fresh real-time data the moment connectivity was back,” Sarkar told HT.

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The trial was conducted on about 40 male and female patients between the age group of 10-70 years admitted in intensive care unit and cardiac unit, besides patients coming for normal health check-up at the OPD. The duration of trial for each patient was around 20-30 minutes.

“The trials were found to be quite dependable,” said Banerjee.

In Odisha, patients were transported from the rural health centre at Tangi to AIIMS at Bhubaneshwar, a distance of about 70 kilometres.

Since the system is dependent on internet and large parts of the country’s remote areas and countryside get poor connectivity, the researchers are presently working to make it function even with irregular signals. The referred hospital, the referee hospital as well as the ambulance need laptops, or tablets, with internet connection.

Read: How technology boosts transparency and outcomes in public health in India

The researchers are also trying to develop the system to enable it to predict the possibility of an emergency for the patient in the immediate future.

A north Indian state is in talks with the IIT Kgp authorities for introducing this technology in the state that struggles to provide critical care to a large population living in difficult terrains with limited hospital facilities.

The research team claimed the system utilises a unique ‘hashing-based mechanism’ – for which they have filed patent application – to preserve patient’s data confidentiality while simultaneously using the analytic and computing power of cloud computing.

First Published: Jun 03, 2017 14:40 IST