Philips Healthcare inks deal with US military for remote monitoring technology

The wearable sensors allow clinicians to monitor multiple wounded military personnel at the same time through a smartphone or tablet.
By Laura Lovett
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Photo Credit: Richard Eldridge/US Air Force

Philips Healthcare is turning its attention to military technology, as the Andover, Massachusetts-based company announced this morning that it would be entering into a non-exclusive patent licensing agreement with the US Air Force Research Laboratory for its Battlefield Airmen Trauma Distributed Observation Kit (BATDOK) system, for an undisclosed sum. 

The technology employs wearable sensors that can remotely monitor a patients vital signs. The system was developed to be used in the field so that clinician can monitor multiple wounded military personnel at the same time through a smartphone or tablet. 

"Many of the [Department of Defense's] medical inventions have potential dual-use civilian applications," Joan Wu-Singel, senior technology manager at TechLink, said in a statement. "In this case, BATDOK could be used in a hospital setting, ambulances, and we're even imagining it help address opioid abuse through dosage monitoring.”

The system was designed by engineers at the 711th Human Performance Wing at Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. But in a statement, Dr. Jim Kearns, technology transfer and domestic alliance manager at the wing, said that unclassified research and expertise from the military could benefit the public and private sector as well. 

"We're confident Philips will deliver products with multiple levels of benefit," Kearns said in a statement. "The Wing has brilliant people doing cutting-edge research. Collaboration with businesses, case in point, enhances their work and gets it to the warfighter."

According to the Air Force Times, BATDOK was in the works as far back as 2015 when it was tested by the Air Force Special Operations Command and Air Combat Command. 

Clinicians can run the system on a smartphone device strapped to their wrist, which can then vibrate and give doctors real-time updates on patients' vitals signs and conditions. 

But this isn’t the first time the military has created its own digital health product. In fact, Techlink, which first broke the Philips deal, also reported on a new DoD software that can integrate into smartphones and trackers to accurately predict heat injury and warn users. 

The US Military has been making deals with other digital health companies as well. Last week a deal was announced between Australian sleep company ResApp and the US military. The partners will join forces in developing a mobile application that will help determine the mission-readiness of American military personnel. 

Philips Healthcare’s parent company, Philips, has also been actively involved in the digital health space. At HIMSS2018 it launched a new version of its HealthSuite, including a new platform called FocusPoint that gives hospitals more visibility into the performance of their patient monitoring systems.

As for the most recent deal, the patent licensing agreement was closed in July, leaving the company open to begin product development and eventually begin offering the product to the public. 

"By combining exceptional mobility, user experience, and reliability, Philips will use Batdok to improve patient monitoring," Kirk Hendler, Philips' vice-president of business development for government solutions, said in a statement. "This all-in-one mobile solution will enhance care delivery by bringing critical data to decision makers."