Pressure ulcers, commonly known as bedsores, are typically seen in bedridden patients as a result of prolonged exposure to pressure at localized spots on the skin. Approximately 1 million patients in the US (3.5% of total admissions) suffer from HAPUs every year, which reduce their quality of life significantly. Extended hospital stays result in additional costs for the hospitals. Treatment of hospital-acquired, preventable complications is not reimbursed by insurance. Treatment costs range between $10K up to $200K per patient per case, depending on the severity of pressure ulcers. It is estimated that treatment of complications related to pressure ulcers in the US cost about $10B in annual healthcare spending.
The standard care is to reposition patients every two hours. However nurse adherence to turning protocols is typically low, ranging between 30% to 60%.
We provide 360 degree visibility to 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.
Our solution consists of wearable hospital garments and patches that employ all-fabric sensors that connect wirelessly to an analytics and visualization engine. The fabric sensors measure the pressure distribution continuously in areas at risk of developing HAPUs. The analytics engine calculates a risk profile based on patients age, body mass index, and pressure history. When the risk is above a preset threshold the nursing staff is notified for repositioning.
One of the challenges of using sensors for monitoring interface pressure is that, the sensors should not create pressure hot spots and result in pressure ulcers. Conventional sensors are typically made of rigid materials and may be uncomfortable to wear for extended periods of time. The solution we propose is an all-fabric sensor array. The fabric sensor is soft, flexible, and can be easily integrated with various hospital garments. We envision a suite of sensors in three groups:
1. Adhesive patches: These 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.
2. Hospital garments integrated with fabric sensors: Particularly for heel and other foot area pressure ulcers the fabric sensor can be implemented in hospital socks that are very comfortable to wear.
3. Hospital bed sheet. In cases when it is not appropriate to use patches, the smart fabric can be provided as a bed sheet. In this case the body movement and body areas at risk are estimated by our analytics engine based on pressure values.
For the hospital garments and the bed sheet, the smart-fabric based material is washable and reusable. The cost of sensor-equipped hospital garments is comparable to non-sensor-equipped counterparts.
The data from individual sensors is collected wirelessly and analyzed in real time by our analytics engine. Once the risk factor calculated by the analytics engine exceeds preset threshold, nurse will be alerted to turn the patient. The nurses can periodically (typically once a day) assess the patient using touch/visual inspection (standard of care) and enter their results in the system via EMR integration. In addition, for objective and more accurate assessment of skin, a handheld device can be used to measure wound development, the results of which are automatically uploaded to our analytics engine. and matched with the pressure data history. The analytics engine utilizes deep learning algorithms to combine pressure data history, skin assessment and other available information to help care providers estimate the onset of HAPUs much earlier than standard visual inspection.
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