Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Researchers develop toilet seat that monitors heart condition

Steve Rogerson
April 2, 2019

Researchers at New York’s Rochester Institute of Technology are hoping to get to the bottom of heart rate monitoring with a toilet seat-based cardiovascular monitoring system that could help hospitals check patients at risk of congestive heart failure.
“This system will be uniquely positioned to capture trend data in the home that have been previously unattainable,” reads a paper published in the journal JMIR Mhealth Uhealth.
Integrated into the seat is a device that measures heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygenation levels. Algorithms will take in all those data and notify health practitioners if the patient’s condition deteriorates.
A trial involving 18 subjects over an eight week period seems to indicate that it’s pretty accurate: “Clinical grade accuracy was achieved for all of the seat measurements when compared to their respective gold standards.”
The goal is to lower the rate of readmission of patients with congestive heart failure. The team plans to bring the device to the Food & Drug Administration for clearance.
According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, about 630,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, accounting for one in every four deaths. Top risk factors include diabetes, obesity, poor diet and a lack of physical activity.
“Typically, within 30 days of hospital discharge, 25 per cent of patients with congestive heart failure are readmitted,” said Nicholas Conn, a postdoctoral fellow at RIT and researcher on the toilet seat project. “After 90 days of hospital discharge, 45 per cent of patients are readmitted. And the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is penalising hospitals for readmitting patients for heart failure.”
The researchers argue providing patients who have experienced heart failures with the toilet seat could significantly save hospitals hundreds of thousands of dollars by lowering the readmission rate after a subsequent incident.
While there’s often no cure, heart failure can be treated with a number of strategies, according to the American Heart Association, ranging from lifestyle changes and medications to on-going care. And a toilet seat-based monitoring system could make those steps a whole lot easier, for patients and practitioners alike.