With healthcare costs steadily increasing many companies have been forced to find new ways to get health information from their patients without requiring lengthy hospital stays or repeat visits. For many, this means integrating new technologies that can offer increased patient feedback without the extra costs that come from in-person visits.
One such device is Maxim Integrated’s upcoming FIT telemonitoring shirt, which combines a t-shirt with a three lead ECG, body temperature and motion sensors, processing technology and a communications device similar to the ones that many consumers already use daily. These components allow the t-shirt to send information back to a physician without the patient ever seeing a waiting room – saving them money.
Patients are not the only ones saving money, because these devices are aimed at consumer use rather than hospital use, they are subject to less stringent durability requirements and thus cost less to produce.
Steve LaJeunesse, strategic marketing manager for the medical equipment segment with Maxim Integrated, is involved in the creation of these new wearable devices. "Why should we do it?," he asked. "A lot of people in the US are older than 60 and live alone. Many have heart issues. If they could wear something 24/7, the data could be captured and events such as heart attacks predicted before they happen – this is all about preventive medicine and wellness."
Maxim supports their claim with statistics that show more than 80 percent of heart related deaths could be prevented if information was more readily available to physicians.
Current versions of the shirt are powered by a battery and use Maxim’s 16 bit MAXQ processor and relay information via the Bluetooth Low Energy format. The next revision, the FIT TWO, will use a CPU core from ARM’s popular Cortex series and in the distant future, Maxim would like to integrate energy harvesting technology so that the shirt could power itself.
Edited by Brooke Neuman