A wired version of the Healthstats monitor is currently in use in hospitals in Singapore and other parts of the world. The company began developing its wireless version about a year ago, in collaboration with HP, which has developed a software platform that can be paired with this and other wireless monitors.
“We have developed an application for a patient and physician portal where all this information will be delivered to the appropriate person,” says Lloyd Oki, vice president of Asia Pacific sales, communications, and media solutions at HP. “It could be an adult buying a mobile monitoring device for their parents, or a younger person being monitored, with the information sent to a clinician or adult caregiver.” Such devices might also be of interest to professional athletes, he says, perhaps calling attention to seemingly healthy athletes with undetected heart issues.
One issue still to be answered is how accurate the device is at measuring blood pressure when people are moving around. Healthstats has shown that the monitor works as well as other measures when users are sitting still, but has yet to publish comparable results for people in motion. “The bottom line from my standpoint is that it is a great idea that still needs to be fine-tuned to be usable in ambulatory patients,” says Dena Rifkin, a physician and assistant professor of nephrology at the University of California, San Diego.
A clinical trial underway in Singapore is designed to assess how the device affects patient and physician behavior, rather than its accuracy. A hundred patients, some healthy and some with a high risk of chronic illness or a history of strokes, will use the device over eight weeks. “Every morning, they will receive a summary of the findings via SMS,” says Ting. “A call center will look at data round the clock and intervene if needed.”
Researchers will then determine whether the monitor helped people with hypertension better control it, and whether it could detect abnormal blood pressure in people who were seemingly healthy. As more people measure their blood pressure throughout the day and night, physicians are discovering different patterns of abnormal blood pressure, such as hypertension only at night, or blood pressure spikes in the early morning, which may contribute to the high percentage of strokes that occur early in the morning, says Ting.