New technology enables novel remote health care

A multidisciplinary team at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., including members of the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases and the Division of Engineering and Technology Services, has been developing remote monitoring technology for the past decade. One of the outcomes of this initiative is the development of the BodyGuardian remote monitoring platform.

The vision has been to develop an integrated, adaptable system for screening, prevention and management of disease that serves as a dashboard of overall health and well-being (much like the sensor system does in a modern car).

The team has developed a broad-based remote monitoring system that enables continuous or intermittent physiologic monitoring and detection of abnormalities arising from a range of medical conditions before they lead to clinically significant concerns. The recorded information is fed into algorithms, giving the health care provider the ability to assess the patient, even though the patient may be thousands of miles away.

For example, when the patient experiences changes, such as weight gain beyond a threshold amount, the algorithms will prompt the patient and provider to adjust diet and exercise. An increased resting respiratory rate might prompt a medication adjustment.

This physician-directed, patient self-management approach will potentially help maintain wellness by frequent adjustments in evidence-based medical therapy, without the need for the patient to travel to the provider's office. When the patient has a clinically relevant event, BodyGuardian communicates wirelessly with a smartphone, provided to the patient. The smartphone inquires about patient symptoms and then event data are sent securely, via the cellphone network and the Internet, to the patient's caregiver for appropriate intervention, all in real time. The smartphone is the communication hub: It stores data, sends messages and reminders, and provides coaching suggestions. Patients may also enter information.

BodyGuardian potentially avoids the necessity of traditional in-hospital monitoring or surgical implantation of sensors. The invention allows noninvasive on-body monitoring that is prescribed and monitored by health professionals with technology that is designed to be unobtrusive for caregivers and patients. The technology provides valuable real-time feedback to the person wearing the monitor and to the health care team. Watching patients from afar and helping them help themselves with as little medical intervention as possible, BodyGuardian benefits patients, their family members and the health care team — a true personal guardian angel.

BodyGuardian represents innovation and collaboration within Mayo Clinic's integrated clinical and engineering practices, facilitated by U.S. and European industry partners. The device is being evaluated in clinical trials at Mayo Clinic by a multidisciplinary team of internists, cardiologists, behavioral scientists, hardware and software engineers, and industry partners.

In these trials, the device is being refined and validated in patients with heart failure and rhythm disorders in post-ICU step-down settings, as well as in elderly subjects living independently in an assisted living environment.