West Wireless to test Sense4Baby in Mexico

West Wireless Health Institute will conduct a year-long study of its experimental remote fetal monitoring device, Sense4Baby. West Wireless is partnering with the Carlos Slim Health Institute in Yucatan, Mexico, to study whether using the monitor can improve maternal health and reduce costs at the same time.

The technology itself is a handheld mobile unit that monitors both mother and baby during high-risk pregnancies, and transmits readings to clinicians via cellular service, according to a West Wireless statement.

The study will run in two phases. The first clinic-based phase starts in the spring. West Wireless will provide its monitoring units to up to 10 clinics in the Yucatan region, along with devices for checking blood pressure and blood glucose levels. Local clinicians will be tracking and monitoring the transmitted data, Joseph Smith, West Wireless' chief medical officer, tells FierceMobileHealthcare.

"Physicians will be able to use the technology in the primary care setting for routine care for expectant mothers," West Wireless officials said.

The first step in the study, though, won't be handing out devices, Smith says. First, project coordinators will be training physicians and allied health professionals to use the equipment, and analyze the data. 

Phase two will start later this year, and push the monitoring kits out into rural areas. Community health workers will be provided Sense4Baby kids to monitor high-risk pregnancies in patients' homes.

It took a while to get the Sense4Baby study off the ground. West Wireless developed the technology itself in 2010 and launched the West Wireless/Carlos Slim partnership in July 2010. But now the group seems to be building some momentum. "WWHI is investigating opportunities to engage in additional research collaborations throughout rural and urban regions of the United States," officials said in a release.

To learn more:
- read the West Wireless press release (.pdf)
- check out the Union-Tribune's article