The West Wireless Health Institute (WWHI) and the Carlos Slim Health Institute (CSHI) kicked off a research study in Mexico that aims to track the impact mobile health and connected devices have on maternal health in the state of Yucatan in Mexico. The technologies used in the study are part of a "Wireless Pregnancy Remote Monitoring Kit," developed by WWHI and CSHI.
The first phase of the research study will equip as many as 10 clinics in the Mexican state with the kits, which include a 3G phone, glucometer and blood pressure meter, urine strips, and a 3G wireless embedded laptop. Providers in primary care providers will use the kits during routine visits with expectant mothers. This phase is set to begin during the second quarter of 2012.
Sometime in the fall the second phase of the study will begin. Community health workers will use a new device, WWHI's Sense4Baby, a handheld, portable and cellular-enabled monitoring device, to provide care for expectant mothers in the comfort of their homes. The Sense4Baby device provides critical maternal and fetal monitoring for high-risk pregnancies.
Researchers at West will have access to a health care delivery system on the Amanece network in order to study the impact the technology has on reducing healthcare costs and the clinical benefits for this high-risk population.
The research study announcement should come as no surprise: When the West Wireless Health Institute first unveiled its prototype of the Sense4Baby device at the mHealth Summit in 2010, the organization already noted plans to deploy the device as part of a kit to healthcare providers working in rural communities in Mexico. As part of the original plan, Qualcomm was going to provide a smartphone running its BREW operating system as part of the kits, but since then smartphones running Android have become cheaper and that led the West Wireless Health Institute to readjust its plan as well as the contents of the kit, a WWHI spokesperson told MobiHealthNews in an email.
The West Wireless Health Institute is also looking to launch research studies on how effective the Sense4Baby device is in rural and urban areas of the United States. The organization is looking for organizations to partner with to carry these studies stateside.
Finally, Gary and Mary West, the founders of the West Wireless Health Institute, recently announced the opening of the West Health Policy Center in Washington, DC. The new center has some of the same leadership as the wireless health institute: West Wireless Health Institute's CEO Don Casey will serve as chairman of the new institute and Dr. Joseph Smith (Chief Medical Officer of the WWHI) will serve as president of the policy institute. Visit the center's website for more info.
For more on the Sense4Baby study, read the press release below:
PRESS RELEASE: West Wireless Health Institute Launches Groundbreaking Research Study on Sense4Baby Fetal Monitoring Device in Mexico
SAN DIEGO, CA - January 25, 2012 – In an effort to deliver quality care at a lower cost for high risk pregnancies, the West Wireless Health Institute (WWHI) today began a groundbreaking year-long research study with the Carlos Slim Health Institute on WWHI’s first fetal monitoring experimental wireless medical device (Sense4Baby™) in Yucatan, Mexico.
“This is a great opportunity for our project and is an important step forward in helping to lower the cost of health care,” said Don Casey, CEO of WWHI. “Collaborating with the Carlos Slim Health Institute leverages our mutual goals of extending the reach of patient care anywhere, by providing wireless remote monitoring of patients that can be conducted by clinicians and community health workers.”
According to UNICEF, 80 percent of maternal deaths worldwide could be prevented if women had access to essential obstetric and basic health care services, including prenatal monitoring technology. There is a pressing need for a low cost solution that will enable hospital grade medical care in rural and remote settings. Access to preventive monitoring technology will lower costs by mitigating adverse outcomes associated with high risk pregnancies.
In 2010, WWHI developed Sense4Baby™, a hand-held, portable wireless device that provides critical maternal and fetal monitoring in high-risk pregnancies at a lower cost by enabling a health care provider to monitor the patient anywhere there is cellular service.
After today’s demonstration of the Sense4Baby™ technology for the Governor and Minister of Health of the State of Yucatan, WWHI and Carlos Slim Health Institute officials announced their joint plan to embark on a two-phase research study in Mexico. Through this research collaboration, WWHI will have access to a health care delivery system on the Amanece network that will enable the team to study the impact of technology on reducing the cost of health care delivery, as well as to better understand the clinical benefits for a high-risk population.
“Thanks to this alliance, we can place the state of Yucatán in the vanguard of health services to take care of mothers and their babies, with the objective that more people live longer and healthy lives,” said Marco Antonio Slim Domit, President of the Board of Directors, Carlos Slim Health Institute.
The first phase of the research study will initiate in the second quarter of 2012 and will include deploying the device in a kit that also integrates testing devices for blood pressure, blood glucose and protein in urine, to up to ten clinics in the state of Yucatan in Mexico, so that physicians will be able to use it in the primary care setting for routine care for expectant mothers. The second phase of the study will begin in the fall of 2012, equipping community health workers with the Sense4Baby™ kit and enabling them to monitor high risk pregnancies from the comfort of the mother’s home.
In addition to the Yucatan-based research study, WWHI is investigating opportunities to engage in additional research collaborations throughout rural and urban regions of the United States.
ABOUT THE WEST WIRELESS HEALTH INSTITUTE
The West Wireless Health Institute (www.westwirelesshealth.org) is the only medical research organization in the world focused on lowering health care costs through technology and innovation. The Institute was founded in 2009 by the Gary and Mary West Foundation, and is based in San Diego, California, the global center for health care innovation.