Capturing vital signs remotely
Hugh Lloyd-Jukes, Commercial Director for Oxehealth, blogs about their software and how it can remotely record people’s vital signs opening up new and safe applications across industries ranging from mental health to elderly care.
There is no reason why if you are in a remote place with a smart phone that you could not download an app and effectively receive as accurate a reading of your vital signs as you could if you were at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
Today, our software, Oxecam, can monitor your breathing, heart rate and movement across a room whether it’s day or night time. It does this to medical grade accuracy and we’re working on blood oxygen, blood pressure and core temperature, not to mention some other health indications I can’t talk about.
We offer our software as a platform which companies can incorporate into their camera solutions – and even build other software services on top of. Our partners join the Oxehealth Partner Programme to access the software and benefit from advances made in the algorithms across multiple use cases.
Prior to the launch of Oxehealth, it wasn’t possible to get vital sign data accurately from people doing normal activities. ‘White coat’ syndrome gets in the way: you go to the doctor, you’re nervous, your vital signs change and they can’t get representative readings. We enable people to be monitored accurately and wire free while doing an everyday activity like sitting and reading a newspaper at home.
We use photoplethysmography (“PPG”). That’s not new science – in fact, it’s how those pulse oximeters they put on your finger in hospital work. The first paper on using cameras for PPG came out in 2008, ‘Remote plethysmographic imaging using ambient light‘. But the really clever bit is getting the PPG data in the real world, with all the interference you encounter – and with people going about their normal lives. Our founder, Professor Lionel Tarassenko, made a breakthrough on that in Oxford and spun us out in 2013.
Choosing the right market
For a while we’ve had a really nice problem because in principle you could do loads of things with this software – from baby care to driver monitoring with many clinical use cases in between. It was the agony of choice.
We think Oxecam has a big role to play in helping shift healthcare from hospitals into homes. The problem is, there are a lot of businesses out there waiting for the healthcare revolution and it never seems quite to arrive. The surprise industry we pivoted our attention onto was secure rooms: mental health hospitals, police custody and prisons. People in these environments are very vulnerable and there’s a real need to monitor their safety and health. With the current Ministerial Review into deaths and serious incidents in police custody well underway, it’s an area, rightly, getting a lot of attention.
Who does this benefit?
We are focused on reducing deaths, improving patient safety, reducing assaults on staff and improving the quality of care. Some patients and detainees need to be monitored every 15 minutes, so reducing the time burden of checking on them can also free a lot of staff time up for other duties. And, one day soon, Oxecam will be on your smart phone.