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Calgary Health and U of C to develop wireless solutions

The Calgary Health Region and the University of Calgary are teaming up to research and develop a new generation of wireless medical devices that will enhance patient care and safety.

The new technology will likely be built into the new hospital planned for south Calgary.

Construction on the new hospital, also known as the South Health Campus, is expected to begin next year. The new venture is the result of partnerships between frontline healthcare workers and electrical and computer engineers at the University’s newly created Calgary Centre for Engineered Care.

Ideally, the venture will vault the University and Region into the forefront of healthcare technology development, according to the CHR.

“New techniques and devices created by these teams will have a direct impact on patient safety,” said Dr. John Conly, regional clinical department head of medicine, Calgary Health Region and the U of C’s Faculty of Medicine. “Innovations such as systems and sensors capable of real-time monitoring of vital signs and movement, on-demand drug delivery systems and continuous blood and fluid analysis will be built into the Region’s South Health Campus and future healthcare facilities.”

The Calgary Centre for Engineered Care brings together a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from science, engineering and medicine. The Centre was created to help facilitate their work and accelerate collaboration between the university and region.

“This area of research is truly exciting, considering the potential benefits to the partners and the patients,” said Dr. Josh Leon, head of the department electrical and computer engineering in the U of C’s Schulich School of Engineering. “Improving quality of life for Albertans, demonstrating research leadership and creating potential commercial spin-offs, are all positives that will come from this partnership.”

New technologies include:

• A smart band-aid or wireless temperature system which is placed on the patient’s temple to continuously monitor the patient’s body temperature and send the information wirelessly in real time to the nursing station.

• A sensor that continuously measures patient heart rate and blood oxygenation sending the data wirelessly to the nursing station.

• Remote sensors that promote healing as well as read and transfer information on blood characteristics to computers, which analyze the information in real time.

• “Smart” bed sensors that trigger an alarm at a nursing station when a patient moves outside of a programmed space to alert the healthcare team when a patient may be in danger of falling.

• “Micro-machined” needles that deliver medications or extract fluids by precisely penetrating the skin above the layer of nerve endings, eliminating the painful insertion of traditional “hollow” needles.

As the new technologies are further developed, they will be thoroughly tested on the Medical Ward of the 21st Century, at the Foothills Medical Centre.