New wearable monitoring technology could get ahead of hospital admissions by proactively predicting respiratory events
A new feasibility study through the University of Alberta could help those dealing with long-term, chronic respiratory issues, using novel wearable technology and artificial intelligence to monitor symptoms and warn of coming exacerbation episodes.
Dr. Giovanni Ferrara, a professor with the University of Alberta Hospital’s Division of Pulmonary Medicine, is currently working on a pilot project to test a new wearable technology, ADAMM-RSM, developed in the U.S. for patients with asthma, with the goal of expanding its use in predicting medical events in other respiratory conditions as well.
“You can fine tune the intensity of treatment based on the intensity of symptoms depending on the phase of the pulmonary disease,” Dr. Ferrara explained. “This device is able to track clinical signs and symptoms in an objective way, helping to inform treatment decisions tailored to patients’ needs, thus providing a more precise control of their disease.”
Currently, such conditions require patients to visit their physicians on a three- to six-month basis, but the wearable technology offers the opportunity for ongoing monitoring that would detect worsening symptoms, or anticipate respiratory events, on a more consistent and proactive level.
“ADAMM-RSM is able to collect the respiratory rate, heart rate, temperature, coughing, wheezing and level of activity for at least eight hours per day,” Dr. Ferrara outlined. “This is important because we want to detect any variations as they occur, before the patient needs to go to the ER.”
“The study will explore the possibility to predict when it’s the right time to see your physician based on the data collected by the device and artificial intelligence algorithms, before you get in trouble. That’s what we really want to see in health care today. We don’t want a different way to look at the same thing — we want new tools.”
Health Care Originals initially developed this technology to assist asthmatics in living a better life, with early studies conducted out of Rochester, N.Y. The technology is currently available for research, chronic respiratory disease monitoring, telemedicine and remote patient monitoring. The new Edmonton-based feasibility study expands upon the science and works conducted in the U.S., tailoring it to be suitable for numerous respiratory conditions including cystic fibrosis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, recent lung transplants, and tuberculosis, among others.
“The beauty of the technology is that Dr. Ferrara is looking at a lot of conditions using the same platform,” said Jared Dwarika, Co-Founder of Health Care Originals, the New York-based company behind the ADAMM-RSM monitoring technology and is now supporting Dr. Ferrara’s project.
“This could include conditions that he might not be considering now. ADAMM-RSM can collect a vast amount of data, and he can retroactively and review the data to apply this technology to other diseases.”
Should the pilot project prove successful, next steps will include running a second and third trial that target specific populations and larger sample sizes, with the initial feasibility study focusing on 40 patients. Further work would include analyzing and finding algorithms that will enable the prediction of major respiratory events such as admissions or ER visits.
“If everything works, it could easily be done within two to three years,” Dr. Ferrara said.
In total, the study will include three phases, with the technology being narrowed for use with specific respiratory conditions over time.
“This is the future of healthcare,” Dwarika said, “feedback on your treatment is going to be tailored to you, rather than using a generic set of parameters.”
The device is worn on the torso, under the clothes, and is placed on the chest, side or back, to suit patient comfort.
“It was designed with privacy in mind,” said Sharon Samjitsingh, co-founder of Health Care Originals. “A common problem with these types of devices is that you don’t want to advertise that you’re monitoring a medical condition — you don’t have to broadcast it.”
Currently, chronic respiratory diseases are among the most common cause of admission to the University of Alberta Hospital’s Emergency Department.
This project has been made possible due to what Dr. Giovanni Ferrara referred to as “unique circumstances” in Edmonton, where there’s a combination of clinical and technological expertise — including experts in artificial intelligence — that lends to the development of new medical devices and research. He added the level of medical innovation currently seen in Alberta is not the norm in other parts of the world, and that he hopes to see further innovation brought about as a result of local expertise and of a vivid entrepreneurial environment.
In addition to Dr. Ferrara and Health Care Originals, the study is being supported by local experts Dr. Pierre Boulanger, who works in the U of A’s Faculty of Science; Dr. Michael Stickland, professor with the U of A’s Division of Pulmonary Medicine; and Breanne Stewart, a clinical trials project lead with the U of A. The project is additionally supported by the Northern Alberta Clinical Trials and Research Centre (NACTRC), ST-Innovations and the University of Alberta’s Precision Health Innovation, Research and Technology Ecosystem (PRECISE) signature area.