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IBM Researchers Develop Technologies to Track Lung Disease

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 25 Oct 2017
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Image: Researchers at IBM have collaborated with Swiss start-up docdok.health to develop a set of sensor and machine-learning technologies to improve the life quality of patients with COPD (Photo courtesy of iStock).
Image: Researchers at IBM have collaborated with Swiss start-up docdok.health to develop a set of sensor and machine-learning technologies to improve the life quality of patients with COPD (Photo courtesy of iStock).
Researchers at International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) (Armonk, NY, USA) have collaborated with Swiss start-up docdok.health to develop a set of sensor and machine-learning technologies to improve the life quality of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), aid patient-physician communication and lower the financial burden on healthcare systems.

The clinical trials scheduled to begin at the Zurich University Hospital in early 2018 will involve up to 100 participants wearing Internet of Things (IoT) devices, which will record their symptoms and vital-signs, such as cough intensity, sputum (salvia and mucus) color, lung function, breath rate and heart rate, oxygen saturation, as well as their activity.

Post the completion of the trial, docdok.health will analyze multi-sensor data using machine learning algorithms developed by scientists at IBM to derive correlations and patterns. In the future, the algorithms derived from these patterns can be used to identify the status and progression of the disease and to predict acute events. Future applications may also allow predictions to be shared via the docdok.health communication platform with treating physicians, who could then intervene in a patient-specific way and alter the patient’s medication to reduce the risk of such acute events from occurring again.

“As most chronic diseases progress outside the hospital we need a secure way to monitor patients when they are discharged,” said Dr. Ulrich Muehlner, CEO, docdok.health. “In this project we are demonstrating that mobile-health technologies have the potential to not only offer frequent patient support at scale and low cost, but also to provide health care that is tailored specifically to individual patient needs.”

“As doctors are confronted with increasing chronic illness in an aging population, we want to challenge the traditional physician office visits and encourage self-care by providing easy-to-use technology. We must be able to detect pre-acute conditions before the patient clinically decompensates and shows up in the emergency room,” said Dr. Christian Clarenbach, an attending physician in the department of pulmonology at the Zurich University Hospital.


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