The NHS has teamed up with the McLaren racing team to trial new technology which continuously monitors patients.
Children in an NHS hospital have become the first in the world to be monitored using the same technology developed by the McLaren Formula One team for its drivers.
The Real-Time Adaptive and Predictive Indicator of Deterioration project (Rapid) continuously records heart rate, breathing rate and oxygen levels, to provide early warning signs of the problems.
It is being trialled at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and is the first of its kind in the world. Health experts said the new technology would transform healthcare, save lives and reduce time in hospital.
“The ability to track and identify deterioration towards a cardiac arrest will give doctors earlier warning signs and the chance to save lives"
Dr Heather Duncan, Birmingham Children’s Hospital
Wireless sensors are attached to the chest and ankle to measure vital signs which are processed using McLaren’s own data analytics programme.
Usually vital signs are monitored my nurses and recorded on paper charts every one to four hours, but the new technology could free up staff while alerting them immediately to changes in the body.
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Dr Heather Duncan, Birmingham Children’s Hospital intensive care consultant and Rapid study lead, said: “This technology is truly transformational. For the first time it allows us to analyse patients’ data in real-time in the same way that various other high-risk industries have done for years.
“The ability to track and identify deterioration towards a cardiac arrest will give doctors earlier warning signs and the chance to save lives. I genuinely believe this will change the way we care for patients in hospitals forever.”
Sarah Hunt’s two-year-old son, Lucas West, is being cared for at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where he already undergone two open heart surgery procedures – the most recent being last week - to help treat his congenital heart condition.
Miss Hunt, 30, of St Athan, near Cardiff, said: “The wires monitoring gives Lucas the freedom. He’s very mobile and like most children of his age wants to be on the move. He can sometimes get in a bit of a tangle when he’s hooked up using wires.
“There’s no question he’s happier when the wireless monitoring system is being used and it still gives me the peace of mind that his condition is being continuously monitored.”
Minister for Life Sciences, George Freeman, said: “Combining world class Formula 1 data analytics technology with the expertise of the NHS in diagnostics is vital if we are to provide patients with the most innovative 21st century diagnostic treatments, and maximise the efficiency and performance of the NHS.”
The three-year study aims to recruit around 1,200 patients when it reaches its completion in 2017.
Ian Rhodes, Chief Executive Officer at McLaren Applied Technologies, said: “McLaren has unique expertise in real-time data collection and analysis which is tested week in, week out, over the course of the Formula 1 season.”
“Using biotelemetry and wireless sensors, we are now able to learn what is normal for each individual child and can alert doctors to any changes.
“We believe that our expertise has the potential to improve the management of patient deterioration, and crucially, help to save many young lives.”