Have you been to the ER lately? Or gone for a physical or checkup where someone said, “Let’s get you hooked up”? I was in the ER for a minor incident recently (it turned out to be no big deal, but all were concerned) and because I was uncomfortable and fully dressed, getting me undressed enough to place the ECG/EKG leads was a bit of an aggravation: minor but still a pain. My experience was incidental, but there are some people who need continuous or frequent monitoring, at least for a time period, and getting them hooked and unhooked can be tedious. You can’t just stick leads on someone and send them on their way because leads fall off and need to be checked. So what if there were a garment with ECG/EKG leads built in, and it came with a data collection device with a smartphone app and even dedicated cloud storage for access by healthcare professionals? Sound too futuristic? Well, that’s end-to-end solution is available from HealthWatch.
In 2015 HealthWatch received FDA Class II clearance for both hWear clothing and the MasterCaution control unit and app that completes the shirt-to-user-to-cloud connection. According to HealthWatch, “hWear™ garments give you hospital-quality vital signs wherever your life-style takes you.” Here’s how the whole setup is designed to work. The hWear shirt with three to fifteen ECG leads has a pocket in which you can carry a MasterCaution device that connect to the leads. That device provides real time monitor of the ECG readings and can alert and report to both the wearer (on a Smartphone app via Bluetooth) and family members, monitoring services, or healthcare professionals (on an app in the cloud via WiFi). In addition to arrhythmia and ischemia, the system can also detect breathing, falls, and lack of motion.
Perhaps someday we’ll all wear connected clothing that detects and reports health and anomalies, but for now the very real need to monitor cardiac patients during critical post event or post procedure time periods can be the answer to a real world need. If patients can go about their normal lifestyle but still be monitored, the promise for freeing up hospital beds and other resources while at the same time giving patents more freedom and family members more peace of mind is compelling indeed.