So, how can healthcare embrace and leverage these same digital capabilities to encourage a similar level of influence on people’s lives. We have entered a new era of personalized healthcare, powered by digitization, with the smartphone as the hub. We have watched the smartphone change virtually every industry; retail, travel, dining, entertainment, and banking. Add to that a world where many have become attuned to instant gratification. This mindset has become the norm except for in healthcare.
Through innovative digital technologies, cloud computing and machine learning, the smartphone, communicating with smart sensors, is going to upend every aspect of healthcare. The result will be that you, the patient, are about to have control of critical health data for the first time. The availability of new smart wearable sensors makes it easier to gather and analyze personal data. Wirelessly tracking vitals, nutrition, sleep, and other life variables has become easy. These sensors are smaller, smarter and less costly, making it possible to take the same quantitative methods formerly used in science and business and apply them to our personal lives. “Our goal is to inform, engage and empower individuals to be involved in their personal health. Just by knowing normal vitals, being aware alone can improve health and extend your life. Then add to that alerting when critical vitals are out of range,” explains Ernie Ianace, President of Sensogram Technologies.
Sensogram Technologies, Inc., a company built on this optical technology platform to provide a total turnkey solution for continuous monitoring of patients. From the hospital room to discharge, into rehabilitation facilities, and back into their daily life activities. Sensogram’s original product, SensoSCAN, reads three key vital signs—heart rate, SpO2 oxygen saturation, and respiratory rate— apart from blood pressure. It is a simple, cuff-less, and wireless device that is worn on the finger and uses highly sensitive optical sensors to provide accurate real-time readings. Over the years, Sensogram has lined up a gamut of other important metrics to provide a comprehensive solution by creating correlations between vital signs, daily activities, motion, and falls. The data collected by Sensogram’s platform opens a plethora of actionable insights for physicians and providers to that assist them in making proactive decisions, while also giving easy physician access to patients.
From a financial stance, the data also mitigates one of the more common challenges of the healthcare industry, which is the high cost of readmissions. Physicians are struggling with cases where patients fail to adhere to the prescribed post-operative protocols. As a result, if a patient is readmitted within 30 days of discharge, the provider is subject to heavy penalties and costs. The protocols involve patients complying with the prescribed rest routine, medication schedules, and submission of vital sign readings. In every case, physicians lack real-time visibility.
Our goal is to inform, engage and empower individuals to be involved in their personal health. Just by knowing normal vitals, being aware alone can improve health and extend your life. Then add to that alerting when critical vitals are out of range
“What excites the market about Sensogram is that doctors can get vitals in realtime, meanwhile, be notified if anything goes awry, and take corrective action; they can either have the nurse call the patient or send someone to see them,” explains Ernie Ianace, President of Sensogram.
Besides SensoSCAN, Sensogram also provides VitalBand and a recent addition to the portfolio, known as SensoRING. VitalBand, much like SensoSCAN, is an optical device, a smartwatch that monitors vitals like heart rate and respiratory rate, but also captures data like step count and calories burned. However, as a product designed to assist senior individuals, VitalBand detects falls and can be pre-programmed to call and text emergency contacts or monitoring services in the event of a fall or when the SOS panic button is activated. Further, VitalBand provides medication reminders and goal notifications that keep the wearer connected to their medication schedules and healthy routines at all times, thus allowing for senior independence and assurance.
SensoRING, on the other hand, combines the power of the photosensitive technology used in Sensogram’s earlier products, with a unique electrical sensing mechanism. This allows care providers to add EKG, stress, BMI, and other metrics to the original set, essentially to make it function as a wireless in-home ICU for the patient. SensoRING is the first product by Sensogram to bring the 360-degree approach to the company’s solutions, extending the usability to a wide range of scenarios. After tying all the optical and electrical sensory data together, Sensogram performs interesting calculations to derive, detect, and continually monitor a host of other conditions, such as heart rate variability, atrial and ventricular fibrillation, and sleep apneic events. In fact, many sleep clinics use Sensogram’s solutions to study vital signs and detect sleep apnea to make real-time adjustments to their care plans.
“While the other products have a form factor derived from an ease-of-use and convenience standpoint, the platform itself just needs access to the skin,” notes Ianace. This is where the ‘SensoTouch’ platform by Sensogram is making quite the difference, as it allows for both hard and soft casing form factors, essentially being applicable to any area of interest. The SensoTouch platform can function as a monitor in a baby cab, a sleep monitor when worn as a compression sleeve, or a simple patch for patients in the ICU room. The complete range of products, coupled with the secure web portal offered by Sensogram form a single effective approach in aligning the objectives of all the stakeholders in a patient’s care continuum.
A unique advantage of Sensogram’s hardware is that the devices need not be connected to the Internet all the time. At times when network connectivity is unavailable, all devices store the streaming data to an in-built local flash drive and goes live once reconnected. Using low-energy Bluetooth communication, Sensogram’s devices share data with beacons, hubs, and iOS or Android phones to display all information on the screen in a proprietary application, where the patients can share with their physicians and other contacts or upload to the cloud. Sensogram employs a dual cloud strategy for redundancy, providing secure connections to Microsoft Azure and AWS. The backend itself is a fully encrypted and secure environment, which is also HIPAA-compliant.
Despite the close-knit protection around the products, Sensogram provides the ability to securely integrate with EHR systems and other care management platforms as well. A lot of the design considerations in Sensogram’s devices are based on ergonomic principles and user feedback in a bid to make the wearables as comfortable as possible. Most importantly, Sensogram’s wearable devices and the data capture technology do not interfere in the natural activities of the subjects wearing them. This was of utmost importance to Dr. Robin Felder—a professor and the Associate Director of Clinical Chemistry and Toxicology at the University of Virginia—who was at the forefront of studying a phenomenon known as “dipping.” There has been a prevailing medical theory that if a person’s blood pressure does not dip by 10 percent or more during sleep, the probability of developing a cardiovascular disease in the next decade is as high as 50 percent. In order to prove this theory, Dr. Felder had to intermittently take vital signs of the human subjects by waking them up, which would—by definition—defeat the purpose of the study. With the help of Sensogram’s solutions, Dr. Felder collected biometric data from a large sample of people in a continuous manner, without disturbing their natural sleep. He is about to publish a paper corroborating the medical theory on the correlations between cardiovascular diseases and blood pressure during sleep, alluding that the U.S. Healthcare System can save billions of dollars annually by just identifying critical patients based on their blood pressure readings during sleep and intervening on time.
"While the other products have a form factor derived from an ease-of-use and convenience standpoint, the platform itself just needs access to the skin"
Enabling the Advancement of Medicine
“To us, the accelerated advancement of medical science, by the usage of our technology, is a bigger win than financial gains. The studies that our devices support today are just the tip of the iceberg,” notes Ianace. In the long run, Sensogram views itself not as a hardware or software products provider, but as a data provider to healthcare organizations. With the database of biometrics and vital signs being built in realtime and without interruption, and additional metrics such as patient location and activity, Sensogram now finds an opportune moment to apply advanced analytics to strengthen the correlations between the datasets.
“The results,” explains Ianace, “would be profoundly beneficial in diagnostics and population health studies.” The often ignored or forgotten interdependence between the development of a disease and patients’ biometric, physical, and location data can be the answer to physicians drawing revolutionary conclusions in the path forward. As a result, Sensogram is currently developing analytical tools and data mining techniques to collect, store, and analyze the data streamed by its wearable devices. “It has never been easier for the healthcare industry to understand what happens in the patient’s life outside of the hospital,” Ianace aptly concludes.