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We Delivered A Non-Invasive Breath Test to Identify Patients At Risk Of Serious Infection.


The COVID-19 pandemic raises particular challenges for the 400,000 UK care home residents, their families and the key staff that look after them. Recent guidance from the British Geriatric Society has been developed to help care home staff and NHS staff who work with them to support residents through the pandemic. This guidance recommends that where possible, care home staff should be trained and equipped to measure vital signs including temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, pulse oximetry and respiratory rate. This will enable external healthcare practitioners to triage and prioritise the support of residents according to need.

We have developed a simple, low cost, portable device to monitor the essential vital signs providing useful actionable measurements in a few minutes. This device has direct relevance in the current COVID-19 crisis where it can be used alongside other front-line care solutions to identify and monitor people at risk of respiratory problems. It would be designed to be easy to use for care home staff. This new solution would protect them, and the people they care for improving their quality of life and help them live longer.

The device, which could be directly utilised in care homes and community settings works by monitoring the lung function allowing very early indications of any abnormalities and also the progression of illness — directly relevant in COVID-19, but with broader healthcare application beyond the current crisis.

Lung function device

Our innovation, a low-cost monitor to detect early signs of COVID-19 infection, along with an associated self-care management education guide, is aimed at care home staff and the NHS staff that support them. It has impact both immediately and in the longer term by providing simple, easy use, low-cost, vital sign measurements that give confidence and reassurance to front line staff.

The user breaths into the handheld device (disposable mouthpiece) at a normal rate, and respiratory lung function data are displayed (Wirelessly connected). Independent measurements are combined to produce a score (machine learning), a clinical prediction rule derived to determine lung function and signs of coronavirus infection. This has been shown to a prediction of infection of up to 3 days in advance.

Most lung function devices are expensive (spirometer) or use forced exhalation (peak flow), and would not detect COVID symptoms. Through the innovation of our established platform technology (IUK funded breathing tube and sensors), we can develop a device that can have a real impact in the community setting. IP advisors have confirmed freedom to operate.

Home healthcare market drivers include the growing geriatric population, expanding home healthcare workforce, and rise in people diagnosed with chronic disorders. The epidemic has increased the need for solutions that can be delivered at the front line.

Yasmine Al-Shaghay

Author Yasmine Al-Shaghay

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