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In recent years, development and deployment of wearable health monitoring systems has gained considerable momentum. This interest in portable health devices is driven by the immense promise for personal portable health watching and remote patient monitoring. 

All-in-One Wearable Health Monitoring System

Taking up the significant market opportunity offered by these wearable health monitoring systems, on Feb 15, 2021, the engineers at the University of California, San Diego announced a key achievement. Their team has developed a soft, stretchy skin-like patch, worn on the neck, to continuously track blood pressure and heart rate while measuring the wearer’s levels of glucose as well as lactate, alcohol, or caffeine levels. This is being hailed as a breakthrough in the healthcare community, being the first wearable health monitoring system to simultaneously monitor cardiovascular signals and multiple biochemical levels in the human body.

Massive Potential

This non-invasive epidermal patch generates data continuously without conspicuous discomfort or interruptions to daily activity thus enhancing the self-monitoring compliance of the wearer and improving the quality of patient care. This biometric sensor will open the door for multiple applications in the healthcare delivery system. These include:

  1. In context of remote patient monitoring during the pandemic, this allows the minimization of in-person visits to the clinics.
  2. This sensor can detect the onset of sepsis for individuals with blood pressure issues and diabetes, who at a higher risk of becoming severely sick due to COVID 19 or other illnesses. Sepsis is a life-threatening medical emergency characterized by the sudden drop in blood pressure and increase in lactate level.
  3. For infants in NICU and patients in ICU requiring constant monitoring of biomarkers. 

Engineering Features & Challenges

The stretchy patch is equipped with three sensors: 

  1. Blood pressure sensor
  2. Chemical sensor that measures glucose levels in interstitial fluid.
  3. Chemical sensor that measures one of the following in the sweat:
    • Lactate (biomarker of physical excursion)
    • Caffeine 
    • Alcohol 

These biomarkers were chosen by design engineers to assess how they each impact blood pressure levels. Furthermore, when worn on the neck, this stretchable epidermal patch delivered health data measurements with the same accuracy as the commercially available remote monitoring medical devices e.g. glucometer, blood pressure cuff, breathalyzer, blood lactate meter etc. 

Finding the right materials, optimizing the overall layout, integrating the different electronics together in a seamless fashion—these challenges took a lot of time to overcome,” said co-first author Muyang Lin, a nano-engineering Ph.D. student. 

Going forward, the team is developing a new version of the patch with even more sensors, shrinking the electronics, and making everything wireless. The first prototype currently needs to be connected to a power supply. 

We want to make a complete system that is fully wearable,” Lin said.

What is Markitech?

As a niche IT solutions and professional services provider, Markitech is a digital transformation company based in the US and Canada, with software engineers and data scientists primarily focused on developing artificial intelligence (AI) applications for the healthcare and telecommunications industries.

We provide services such as custom application development and prototypes, innovative end-to-end solutions leveraging AI/5G/Cloud/IoT, creative UI/UX designs, iOS/Android mobile, web and wearable app development and staff augmentation tools and training programs. Markitech has completed several game changing solutions including, vEYEtals, YourDoctors.Online, Signia, and many more.

What does this development mean for Markitech?

Markitech’s platform, SenSights.AI, is an easy-to-use mental health & well-being intelligence solution for seniors & caregivers. It aims to track the progression of early cognitive decline by capturing vitals, daily notes, medication effects, feelings, behaviour, and finally assessing virtual interventions based on risk-levels. Our device agnostic platform allows the flexibility to choose from a wide range of FDA compliant devices to effectively monitor, and provide affordable and timely service to patients, in the comfort of their homes.

With the deployment of such epidermal neck peck patches, SenSights. AI’s device agnostic platform can go a step further in ensuring accurate, continuous, and convenient reporting of biometric data and vitals. This pairing can thus prove to be revolutionary for the prospect of monitoring patients remotely, improving accessibility of primary care and increasing capacity of healthcare professionals; all in all, ensuring the continuum of care.

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Contributor: Mariam Javed