Finnish health bracelet may revolutionise hospital patient care
Finnish biomedical startup Medieta has an ambitious goal: to reduce healthcare costs while optimising patient care and increasing efficiency. The key to this is the company’s unique medical health measurement bracelet ‘ErrS’.
“The company was born in 2012 out of medical frustration,” explains the CEO and co-founder of Medieta Jouni Ruoppa.
“Three ‘wise men’ [doctors] marched into my office. They were discouraged by the inefficiency of patient monitoring. Some surgery patients even passed away at night time because there wasn’t an efficient system for monitoring their biosignals.”
To answer this challenge an idea was born for an easy-to-use, wireless medical measurement bracelet to enable remote patient monitoring. Two years later the prototype bracelet is in test use in two university hospitals in Finland, and Medieta is getting ready to launch the final product in late 2015.
Fewer hospital days
The ErrS bracelet is equipped with GPS and measures several different biosignals, like blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation. The measurement data is transferred in real-time to Medieta’s cloud-based platform where the assigned doctor or a nurse can check the measurement data. They also get alerted if any anomalies or significant changes are detected in the patient’s vitals.
In addition to data gathering, the system analyses the collected data against Early Warning Score Tables, which are widely used in hospitals, and predicts the development of possible complications, such as cardiac arrest.
The remote monitoring makes it possible to discharge hospital patients earlier and reduces unnecessary hospital visits. This not only improves the patients’ wellbeing but also brings substantial cost savings when fewer hospital days are needed and resources can be allocated more efficiently.
Furthermore the data can be used to determine correct medication and treatment needs or in some cases even to see whether a patient has remembered to take their medication.
“We can increase the efficiency of a hospital by up to 40 per cent. Patients can be safely transferred from intensive care or discharged earlier since there is a reliable way to remotely monitor their vitals,” says Ruoppa.
“We are the first in the world to have integrated the measurement of all main biosignals into one user-friendly and truly mobile device. It also looks like a consumer product and not like hospital equipment.”
Healthy future in sight
While the bracelet is still under development, the promising prototype has already raised international interest. In the UK pilot tests are scheduled to start in the next few months and similar discussions are currently under way in the US.
For now the US and the EU are the primary target markets for the company which employs around 30 people in its teams in Finland. In the US alone, missed critical warning signs and unnecessary visits to the doctor add over 130 billion dollars in annual costs to the healthcare system.
“In total we are looking at a huge market. That will keep us busy. We have received lots of enquiries from China as well, but that time will come later,” says Ruoppa.
“I believe that in a few years time we will employ 200–300 people and have offices at least in the UK and the US, possibly also in Germany.”
While the bracelet is packed with features also suitable for fitness tracking, Medieta’s plans do not include expanding to the consumer market. Instead, the company envisions different versions of the bracelet which could be prescribed by doctors not only to existing patients but also to people belonging to high risk groups.
“Healthcare needs more automation and better abilities to intervene at an early stage. We want to start an evolution in healthcare similar to what happened in communication when we moved from landlines to mobile phones or from physical banks to internet banking,” says Ruoppa.
“Like some wise Chinese have said, hospitals should be only for the sickest of the sick. We can help to make that happen.”
Text: Eeva Haaramo