News Feature | March 10, 2015

Researchers Use Small Devices To Monitor Chronic Conditions

By Megan Williams, contributing writer

Researchers Use Small Devices To Monitor Chronic Conditions

With all the advances the medical device industry has seen, ease of use is a relatively new focus. Researchers from the University Of Michigan are making advances with small, medical devices that will be useable by patients with a wide range of skill levels.

Their project, Deep Monitoring, has received $1.4 million in funding, its second infusion of capital. For this stage, the research team is looking at low-resource locations including rural Jamaica, Ghana, and parts of Michigan.

The Devices

A few of their devices are already at the testing and refinement stage. Those include:

  • Quantitative 3D eye-imaging and recording systems
  • Wireless temperature and sound sensors
  • Personal health interfaces for the elderly
  • Wireless aqueous chemistry detectors

The technologies are simple, but still generate good, quality data on inexpensive platforms — a trait that is ideal for remote areas. Currently though, commercial developers don’t see the value in the area since profits would be slim.

Professor David Burke, professor of human genetics at the U.M. Medical School, believes that this can change, “…we asked, can we look at the technology we have and use the power of U.M. — the clinics, physicians, engineers, and public health and social sciences researchers? Can we use our resources and our knowledge of engineering, manufacturing and manufacturing infrastructure to target consumer devices that yield quality data that physicians can believe?”

Devices In The Real World

Burke also elaborated on his vision, “I’d like to see every doctor’s office with a basket of temperature-monitoring devices instead of pens that they hand out to patients and say, ‘Here these are free. Take three, one for your upstairs and downstairs bathrooms, and one for your glove compartment.’”

The temperature device is already in development and costs less than $5. It’s being used to record limb temperatures in order to signal inflammation in diabetes patients.

The sound sensor costs less than $20 and is a remote stethoscope.

The team’s urine chemistry sensor monitors kidney function, costs less than $40 and is also applicable to patients with diabetes.

Next in the lineup is a technology interface designed for the technological competency levels of older adults, which would capture and quantify information about an individual’s health through low-cost sensors.

Read more at Michigan News.