Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wireless Network in Hospital Monitors Vital Signs

Washington University in St. Louis (08/04/11) Diana Lutz
Washington University in St. Louis researchers launched a prototype sensor network in Barnes-Jewish Hospital, with the goal of creating a wireless virtual intensive-care unit in which the patents are free to move around. When the system is fully operational, sensors will monitor the blood oxygenation level and heart rate of at-risk patients once or twice a minute. The data is transmitted to a base station and combined with other data in the patient's electronic medical record. The data is analyzed by a machine-learning algorithm that looks for signs of clinical deterioration, alerting nurses to check on patients when those signs are found. The clinical warning system is part of a new wireless health field that could change the future of medicine, says Washington University in St. Louis computer scientist Chenyang Lu. In developing the system, the researchers were focused on ensuring that the network would always function and never fail. The relay nodes are programmed as a self-organizing mesh network, so that if one node fails the data will be rerouted to another path. At the end of the trial, the researchers found that data were reliably received more than 99 percent of the time and the sensing reliability was 81 percent.