Pressure ulcers, commonly known as bedsores, are typically seen in bedridden patients as a result of prolonged pressure at localized spots on the skin. Pressure ulcers are a serious problem for patients and also a great concern for hospitals. Hospital-acquired pressure ulcers (HAPU) are considered a “never event” by insurance agencies and therefore hospitals cannot get reimbursed for associated treatment costs. Approximately 1 million patients in the US alone suffer from HAPUs with treatment costs ranging from $10K to $100K per patient. For example, this results in $6M non-reimbursable expense for a 300-bed hospital per year. Leading hospitals have determined elimination of HAPUs a number one priority.
Our solution includes wearable patches and hospital garments (hospital socks, gown, etc.) that employ all-fabric sensors. The smart fabric is soft, flexible, and can be easily integrated with various hospital garments. The fabric sensors measure the pressure distribution continuously in areas at risk of developing pressure ulcers. The information is transmitted wirelessly to an analytics and visualization engine that uses a deep-learning algorithm to calculate a risk profile based on patient's age, body mass index, and skin assessment in addition to sensor data. When the risk is above a preset threshold, the nursing staff is notified for optimal repositioning through our Electronic Medical Record (EMR) integrated solution.
The adhesive patches are very similar to widely-used patches for sacral area that include a foam to distribute pressure, with the added benefit of measuring the pressure distribution continuously. Particularly for heel and other foot area pressure ulcers the fabric sensor can be implemented in comfortable hospital socks. In either case, our solution just replaces existing solutions with smart-fabric-integrated counterparts. In terms of cost, we anticipate the cost of sensor-equipped hospital garments is comparable to non-sensor-equipped counterparts.
The Impact of Our Solution:
We provide 360 degree visibility for the hospital staff to eliminate HAPUs and help them improve patient outcomes. By using our technology suite, hospitals and nursing homes provide better service, operate efficiently, and avoid treatment costs associated with HAPU and avoid litigations. For patients, our solution provides better quality of life and more independence. Furthermore, our technology suite is directly extendable for home care applications and telemedicine through the use of our mobile phone app.
Technology Development and Next Milestones:
We have developed a prototype for our solution and we are continuing our work on the analytics engine. Our team is collaborating with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. We are planning our first pilot study on ICU patients in 2018.
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