In the emergency medical field, treatment and diagnosis decisions are made based on analysis of a bodies activity, the most important being their vital signs. The vital signs include body temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate – if there is an irregularity in your vitals, you’re in trouble. Over the past few years, the procedure for both long term and short term vitals monitoring has changed drastically across all aspects of the industry. With the introduction of wearable garments, this procedure continues to evolve and shape a smarter future on the sides of both the medical patient and the First Responder.
Patient Vitals Monitoring
One of the most important developments in patient monitoring can be attributed to wearables – remote patient monitoring is revolutionizing how physicians are interacting with their patients. Remote and long-term monitoring gives the doctor a look into patients everyday life rather than basing treatments on the information collected solely during the appointment. This can lead to more accurate diagnoses, treatment decisions, and – long term – reduced appointment follow ups. Remote patient monitoring could also be used as an assurance for people who have just been released from the hospital stay to make sure everything is running smoothly. Alerts could also be established for at-risk patients, so if their vitals reach a dangerous high or low, emergency services are automatically alerted, ensuring a response team will get to the scene as efficiently as possible. (A downside of this would be a false alert, deploying responders for no reason. This would require extensive programming on the health IT side of things.)
We believe a textile wearable is most easily integrated into the daily lives of the wearer – it’s not clunky or tangled with wires, and – if the tech is integrated correctly – can be forgotten about while in use.
In an emergency situation, using a wearable that has multiple monitoring capabilities can also reduce time to action. A wireless and smart textile vest that covers the core of the body could measure not only the core body temperature and pulse, but – if outfitted with the right technology – could potentially measure the amount of times the chest rises and falls (respiratory rate) and could pair with a cuff that monitors BP. Utilization of a cordless smart fabric makes this a futuristic application, as precise and rapid readings in a fast paced situation would be a requirement for the device without fail. Another difficulty would be that the vest could potentially have to rest against the skin to get the most accurate measurements, making it mandatory to fully remove the patients shirt.
For further reading, check out this article from EMS World: In Search of Wireless Monitoring
First Responder Vitals Monitoring
Just as important as the patient monitoring is the monitoring of the First Responder and emergency services. Without ensuring their health and safety, reporting to the scene without vitals tracking puts them at risk.
Innovators have recognized the risks that First Responders are faced with daily, and are developing wearables that include built in alerts and vitals monitoring, letting others know when they’re in danger. An example of this is DataSoft Automatic Injury Detection software, which alerts via cell phone notifications when the wearer has been shot, and where the injury is. According to their website, this technology has already been distributed to some Police Departments. Integrating this vitals monitoring technology into a bulletproof vest would ensure the protection of responders alike. Another interesting First Responder integration could be the injury detection tech + vitals monitoring in a cooling/temperature regulating vest for Firefighters. This could reduce heat stress while monitoring temperature and respiration rate.
There’s no doubt that further innovations are on the horizon for vitals monitoring, some of them integrating seamlessly into standard safety practices. Textiles provide a comfortable solution to excessive cords or clunky devices.