Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Australian university develops award-winning remote patient monitoring system

Iain Morris
September 3, 2014
Students at Australia’s La Trobe University have developed a remote monitoring technology that will alert staff and healthcare providers when patients do not take their medicine.

The system – branded eNurse – has been singled out for praise by Australian telecoms operator Telstra (Melbourne, Australia), winning a technical development award in an M2M University Challenge that Telstra recently oversaw, where it faced competition from 20 other projects.

According to La Trobe (Melbourne, Australia), the invention uses wireless networks to minimize the time that nurses, caregivers and other medical professionals spend on routine or prescription medication and treatment.

It should allow professional healthcare players to monitor patients without having to schedule appointments or perform manual check-ups, with doctors able to view and modify patient information – and add medical data remotely – when appropriate.

The university says the project was the brainchild of a five-member team of final-year computer and electronic engineering students.

Keith Nugent, the deputy vice chancellor for La Trobe, says the technology will be highly valued in Australia, which has a rapidly ageing population with increasing numbers of people struggling with early dementia or living alone in regional and remote areas.

“This will be a growing and costly challenge for our medical services in the years ahead,” he said.

“To be … recognised this year for our work at the frontiers of e-health demonstrates the world-class quality of our students,” he added. “It also highlights the depth and strength of our research in electronic, software and medical engineering.”

The technology works by combining a central hub – able to control “custom-built attachments” such as smart pillboxes – with a web server for data management and a communications system connecting devices with doctors, nurses, pharmacists and carers.

The eNurse pillbox will alert patients by green light and audio commands when they need to take medication, and then check whether relevant pillbox compartments have been accessed.

It patients are not complying with medications for any significant length of time, it can notify relatives or carers.

La Trobe says the next step is to find finding business partners and organizations to expanded eNurse for use with other medical devices, such as heart rate, glucose, blood pressure monitors and breathalysers.
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