"The value added of the HEARTS system, which offers continuous monitoring, is its decision support capabilities. This innovative, patient-centric approach involves improved automatic diagnosis features based on disease knowledge. This is gathered by monitoring the health behaviour of the wearer", explains Stefano Romani, Programme Manager of Datamat, SPA and co-ordinator of the IST programme-funded Healthy Early Alarm Recognition and Telemonitoring System (HEARTS) project.
The disease knowledge is enriched over time as the system learns the patient's behaviour, for example, by monitoring and "remembering" the heartbeat during daily activities. Biometric signals, primarily electrocardiogram (ECG), are collected in the hospital or at home and displayed on a central station accessed by a doctor, who can then warn the patient.
The advanced and adaptive decision support capability integrates classic analysis techniques with new approaches, such as Neural Network Analysis and Non-Linear Analysis, to process the information. HEARTS uses an open architecture, which can be enhanced or expanded with the simple addition or replacement of existing components with new ones readily available on the market.
The various components of the HEARTS system were tested and results validated at Policlinico A. Gemelli hospital in Rome, which is now working with project partners to test the entire HEARTS framework in real-life scenarios. The next step is bringing the solution to market.
With cardio-vascular diseases (CVDs) being the leading cause of death in the west the market is potentially enormous. More than 20 percent of Europeans suffer from a chronic CVD and they cause 45 percent of all deaths. Europe spends hundreds of billions of euros a year on diagnosis and treatment. In addition, the cost of unnecessary tests for people admitted to hospital with symptoms is extremely high. A healthy and preventive lifestyle combined with early diagnosis is an effective weapon in the fight against CVDs could save millions of lives and health care costs.
"We plan initially to offer the system to hospitals, which will allow them to increase patients' quality of life without losing the capability to continuously monitor them", says Mr. Romani. "This would also reduce post-operative costs as patients could be moved out of the intensive care unit quicker."
The consortium is also exploring HEARTS' potential for home care situations. More information about the HEARTS project is available from Stefano Romani, Programme Manager, Datamat SpA, Via Laurentina 760, I-00143 Rome, Italy, Tel.: +39-06-50274218 or at the HEARTS project Web site. This article was reprinted from the IST results Web site.