The Patch That Warns Against Impending Heart Attacks

Philips's wearable heart monitor warns doctors of possible danger before it becomes life threatening.

The Patch That Warns Against Impending Heart Attacks

The Patch That Warns Against Impending Heart Attacks

Monitoring key vital signs 24/7

In an unexpected health emergency there is precious little time to react despite ample warning signs. But without a healthcare professional around to spot them they all too often go unheeded, that is unless the professional is an algorithm. That's the promise for people with heart ailments of the new Phillips Wearable Biosensor. The a 4.6 by 1.6 inch, one-use patch monitors key vital signs and streams them wirelessly to a cloud-based service called IntelliVue Guardian that looks for early indications of trouble and sends alerts to doctors via their smartphones or tablets.

Cross your heart

Shaped like an elongated figure eight, the Wearable Biosensor sticks to the chest, over the heart, and can run for 3-4 days, but is not rechargeable. It continuously monitors respiratory rate, skin temperature, posture, and activity, including steps and falls. It also functions as a basic electrocardiogram (ECG), which measures the electrical activity of the heart to read not only heart rate but any irregularities in how the heart is beating. All this data will flow to IntelliVue Guardian, Philips new remote patient monitoring system, which includes a patient monitor, wireless biosensor as well as clinical decision support software and services. The system is intended to be used in low acuity hospital settings, with patient returning home and continuing to wear it.

Says Jeroen Tas, who heads up Philips Connected Care and Health Informatics division, “You go to your GP, you’re at high risk of a cardiac problem, and we put you on monitoring.” He adds, “This also gives us the opportunity to have patients wear a patch when they get discharged from the hospital and continue to monitor them when they get home. This is another proof-point around our ability to give patients seamless experiences in and out of the hospital.”

Smartphone app

The Wearable Biosensor connects to a smartphone with Bluetooth to stream data over the Internet—just as dozens of fitness bands do. It's another example of consumer tech filtering up to revitalize high-end, professional services like medical-grade health monitoring—something Philips calls the consumerization of health care. This process has reshaped the entire 125-year-old Dutch technology firm (co-creator of the CD and DVD).

According to Tas, Philips makes 40% of the world's patient monitors. The new Royal Philips blurs the line between consumer and medical-grade technology. "You can look at it…from that very interesting intersection, and that's basically where you start looking at patients as consumers," he says. Consumers now expect information and tools to self-manage their health, says Tas. Philips's eCareCompanion app runs on tablets and lets patients answer questions about their health that goes into their patient records. Philips is also developing an app for diabetes patients to monitor their condition – there are plenty of diabetes apps, but Philips's links to health care providers and allows patients to interact with their

The broader cloud initiative

Wearable Biosensor is classified as a medical-grade device: You can't just buy it on Amazon. In fact, it's not yet available anywhere, since it's still undergoing trials in the EU, U.S., and Singapore and evaluation by regulatory bodies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and may be available by the end of the year. But consumer health monitors are part of a broader cloud initiative called HealthSuite that weaves their data in with pro-grade readings and medical records to understand the patient's overall health context.

"We envision a future where patients enabled by connected health technologies will recover faster with fewer complications and greater peace of mind in the hospital and subsequently at home," Carla Kriwet, CEO of Patient Care and Monitoring Solutions at Philips, said in a statement. "Connected sensing solutions and the value created by the rich and actionable data they generate, can have a very positive impact on the chronically ill by helping to reduce associated costly adverse events, complications, unplanned transfers back to the ICU and longer lengths of hospitalization."