Monday, May 6, 2013

Northeastern University Inventing Sensors to Track, Inform Patients

My opinion: While this technology may prove useful in small, extreme cases, like those with the autistic children, it may also have a greater impact on the general population, as mentioned near the end of the article.  Whenever I volunteer in the hospital, it is sometimes difficult to focus on each individual patient - beeps are coming from many rooms, and everyone wants the nurse's attention.  Perhaps these sensors could specifically indicate what the problem is and send a message to the nurse.  This way, it would be easier to prioritize patients' needs, and there might not be a need for those distracting beeping sensors anymore.  In turn, this technology could help the patient understand what the nurses and doctors want from them, making the overall experience less confusing.  However, it would have to be easy to operate.  Also, though this might make it less necessary for doctors to spend time with their patients, I still believe that computers should not replace doctors.  Feel free to comment.


Northeastern team puts patients first in health tech

Sometimes without warning, one of the autistic students in a classroom at the Center for Discovery will lose control. He will scream and cry. Throw things. Bang his head against the wall.
The six adolescent boys in this Monticello, N.Y., classroom, some of the hardest-to-handle students in New York State, cannot explain what is upsetting them. Unable to talk, they seem to live in their own world.
Matthew Goodwin, an assistant professor at Northeastern University, is trying to better understand their world by carefully tracking the boys’ movements and their environment. He has the boys wear sensors on their ankles and wrists that measure arousal levels, while cameras mounted on the walls record activities in the classroom, with the goal of finding what triggers episodes in the boys.
This is one of the early projects in a new program at Northeastern University to develop personal health informatics: devices and apps to improve health.
“The goal is really to be observing what happens from a patient’s point of view,” said Stephen Intille, one of the program’s founding faculty members. “Where can we insert technology to make their experience better?”
The five core faculty members, including Goodwin and Intille, believe that technology can help people take greater control of their health while improving the delivery of care. The only way that’s possible, they argue, is if technology is designed with users in mind and is proved to be effective with rigorous research....Intille and colleague Timothy Bickmore are collaborating on a project to embed patient-focused technology in hospital rooms that would allow patients to track their pain, for example, answer basic questions for them, and remind them of their doctors’ names and specialties.
Bickmore envisions a “bedside presence with a range of sensors that can tell what’s going on in the room and what’s going on with the patient.”


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