CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan unveils technology for contact-free care of COVID-19 patients

05/01/2020 05:05 PM
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Taipei, May 1 (CNA) Taiwan researchers on Friday gave a demonstration of a new system that will allow doctors and other healthcare personnel to remotely monitor the health of hospital patients with highly contagious diseases like the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The technology, developed by the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and Taipei Medical University Hospital (TMUH), is designed for greater efficiency and less risk among the doctors and nurses treating such patients, Cheng Jen-chieh (鄭仁傑), director of the ITRI's Service Systems Technology Center, said during the demonstration at TMUH.

The system works by using cameras and infrared sensors to monitor the color changes in a patient's facial capillaries and their chest movements as they breathe, Cheng said, according to a TMUH press release.

Using artificial intelligence algorithms, it converts that data to give a read out of the patient's heart rate, respiratory rate and body temperature, he said.

Those vital signs are then transmitted to an electronic whiteboard in the nurses' station and alerts them to any changes in the patient's condition, Cheng said.

If any abnormalities are detected, doctors and other healthcare workers can use the system's videoconferencing feature to have consultations with the patient, he said.

Patients, meanwhile, can access their vital data in real time via a cellphone app, according to the ITRI.

By making the process contact-free, hospital medical professionals will be able to work more efficiently and to significantly reduce their risk of exposure to highly contagious diseases, according to ITRI Executive Vice President Chang Pei-zen (張培仁).

At present, hospital healthcare workers enter the quarantine rooms of COVID-19 patients 12-15 times a day, he said.

Each time, the medical staff members have to don protective gear, a process that takes about 20 minutes, and on leaving the room, they have to carefully remove and dispose of the protective equipment, Chang said.

The remote treatment system, designed by ITRI, TMUH and four private companies, has been installed at TMUH, but no details were available on how widely it will be used in Taiwan.

(By Chung Jung-feng and Matthew Mazzetta)

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