Scripps wins USAID grant to monitor Ebola patients with medical wearables

By Aditi Pai
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Sotera Wireless's ViSi Mobile monitor. Sotera Wireless's ViSi Mobile monitor.

The Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) has received a grant from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to create a program that will use health sensors to improve the health outcomes of Ebola patients. The program is called STAMP2, short for Sensor Technology and Analytics to Monitor, Predict and Protect Ebola Patients.

STSI explains that currently doctors can detect the infection in patients who might have Ebola only after the patient becomes contagious and the virus has had the opportunity to spread. And for patients that are infected, doctors could miss changes in their health status if they are only checking vital signs periodically. 

In the STAMP2 program, researchers will collect patient data using Sotera Wireless' ViSi Mobile System, which continuously monitors blood pressure, pulse rate, electrocardiogram (ECG), blood oxygenation level, respiration rate, and skin temperature from a wearable sensor system with a wristworn screen. STAMP2 will also collect data from Rhythm Diagnostic Systems' MultiSense, a bandaid-like sensor that measures ECG, heart rate, pulse synchronized oxygen saturation, temperature, respiratory rate, depth of respiration, and position.

Data collected from the  ViSi Mobile System and MultiSense device will be sent to a personalized physiology analytics (PPA) platform, powered by PhysIQ. The data will be analyzed to detect changes in a patient's health status over time, compared to the patient's physiological baseline.

“The new approach will provide unprecedented visibility into a patient’s physiology that we believe will be invaluable in improving care in minimizing risk of exposure during an Ebola virus outbreak,” Scripps Health Director of Digital Medicine Steven Steinhubl said in a statement. “This will open the door to being able to identify warning signs very early on, when potentially lifesaving care can be provided.”

After STSI develops, validates, refines, and tests the STAMP2 program, it plans to make the program available to certain US federal agencies. STSI said they currently envision the system to include ViSi Mobile and MultiSense devices as well as wireless rugged computers, smartphones, and tablets that are loaded with specially created apps. This system would be able to monitor up to 500 patients, according to STSI, but the institute plans to make the program flexible enough to be scaled up or down.

Digital health technology has already been deployed to monitor potential US Ebola patients. In October 2014, providers used Vivify Health’s software-as-a-service remote monitoring platform to monitor people who had contact with Thomas Duncan, the Dallas man who was the first US victim of the disease. Dozens of people in Texas were using the platform to check in daily on video visits with nurses, who can forward them to a doctor in the event of a preponderance of Ebola-like symptoms.