ITRI uses image-based detection technology and AI algorithms to monitor a patient’s heart and respiratory rate.
To alleviate the significant stress of frontline medical personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic, ITRI and Taipei Medical University Hospital (TMUH) jointly developed a contact-free monitoring system that can increase process efficiency and reduce infection risks during patient care services. With the system’s contact-free, round-the-clock and real-time features, medical workers can remotely monitor patients’ vital signs such as heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature as well as their bed-exit events. Moreover, they can have interactions with patients and provide consultation via videoconferencing devices. Two ITRI technologies–Non-Contact Image-based Heart Rate Detection Technology and IoT Gateway–for the first time are introduced into negative pressure isolation wards, offering a great tool for medical care during the critical times.
The Non-Contact Image-based Heart Rate Detection Technology, as ITRI’s Service Systems Technology Center General Director Roger Cheng explained, uses general image cameras and AI algorithms to monitor changes in the color of a patient’s facial capillaries and their chest movements as they breathe. Then the data is converted to provide a readout of the patient’s heart and respiratory rate. If any abnormalities are detected, the nurses’ station will be alerted via IoT Gateway, and healthcare workers can use the system’s videoconferencing feature to speak with the patient without entering the room. Patients can also download the hospital’s App via a QR code to access their own vital data, medical records, and e-health education materials.
ITRI Executive Vice President Pei-Zen Chang (left) and TMUH Superintendent Ray-Jade Chen (right) recognized the collaboration between both sides on applying the contact-free monitoring system in patient care.
ITRI Executive Vice President Pei-Zen Chang pointed out that this ITRI-TMUH collaboration marked three major achievements: 1) systematically integrating the patients’ vital readings and various medical data, 2) designing services from the healthcare workers’ perspectives, and 3) conducting proof of practice in TMUH. Statistics have shown that healthcare personnel enter COVID-19 patient quarantine wards 12 to 15 times a day. For each visit, they have to spend 20 minutes putting on personal protective equipment (PPE) before entering the ward, and after exiting, they also need to carefully remove their PPE and disinfect themselves. Not only is the entire process time- and resource-consuming, the medical staff also run the risk of being infected during the frequent exposures. Now, with the assistance of technology, medical personnel are able to take care of patients with zero physical contact and thus avoid cluster infection and cross infection in hospitals.
TMUH Superintendent Ray-Jade Chen remarked that during the pandemic, technology can mitigate medical staff shortage issues and considerably increase medical resource utilization rate as the system can automatically and remotely collect data, provide round-the-clock monitoring, and alert medical staff early on if any abnormity is detected. “The TMUH team worked with ITRI and experts from different fields to develop this contact-free monitoring system, jointly demonstrating the importance of combining the academic and research sectors with clinical and industrial practices,” he said. He hopes both sides can carry on the partnership and invest additional resources to develop more innovative epidemic prevention technology products and services.
In the face of the COVID-19 patient care challenges, we are all truly grateful for the dedication of the frontline medical workers. As a supporter of Taiwan’s industries, ITRI has once again leveraged the power of technology to expand its support to healthcare workers battling COVID-19 on the frontlines.