Sensor-based remote monitoring system keeps elderly out of hospital

A wireless sensor system used to monitor elderly people at assisted living facilities and at home is helping to detect illness and keep them out of the hospital.

The technology, developed by employees at University of Missouri and the Sinclair School of Nursing, helps to provide caregivers with detailed vital signs every day, instead of once a year when the patient goes to the doctor for a checkup, according to a Columbia Daily Tribune article.

Sensors include one placed under a patient's mattress to detect restlessness when sleeping, and another can help monitor the patient's gait to help predict falls, the article says.

The information gleaned from the sensors can help detect health issues like upper-respiratory infections and pneumonia, as well as changes in chronic health conditions.

"We can actually detect illnesses 10 days, two weeks, sometimes even longer before the resident would typically complain" about not feeling well, Marilyn Rantz, professor emeritus with the School of Nursing, tells the Tribune. "It gives the nurse a heads up that something's not right with that person."

Use of such sensors has the potential to capture data that may revolutionize remote patient care, help patients live better lives, save providers money on hospital administration and free up patient beds, according to Kathryn Wills, M.D., a smart textiles research scientist at the National Physical Laboratory and Coventry.

University of Missouri researchers also are trying to capitalize on their system with help from the Sinclair School of Nursing, which has been installing the system in private residences, according to the article.

In fact, remote monitoring tech and consultation use for the elderly and patients with chronic conditions are fueling growth in the home health tech market, according to a recent Tractica report.

Efforts in the U.S., in particular, will boost the market, which will grow from $3.4 billion in 2014 to $13.7 billion by 2020, the report says.

To learn more:
- read the article