With the pattern of health care in Europe and worldwide shifting to community and informal care, “HEARTS” aims at enhancing patient independent living and quality of life by providing the means for safe and unobtrusive monitoring and quality care at manageable cost to a growing number of people away from hospitals.
The project focuses on developing a methodological framework and introduces a home-based infrastructure that enhances and integrates a number of next-generation key technologies to enable and support patients with congestive heart failure (CHF). The project has a concrete content so that a specific system will be realized; however, the proposed technological and methodological framework is designed to be open to many other patient categories and can provide a general-purpose tool for remote monitoring with integrated medical inference and controlled decision making capabilities.
The infrastructure is based on state-of-the-art measurement and data acquisition through communities of devices and artefacts, wireless data transfer and communications, data fusion, medical inference and decision making, and automatic planning and execution of advanced response patterns and interaction scenarios.
Key for making such care affordable are: using existing, often off-the-shelf available technologies for the infrastructure where possible; designing an open methodology that will allow integration of new devices as they become available; combining advanced research and integrating advanced software techniques that allow the automation of routine medical tasks which however hitherto called for constant human presence.
The function of the system transcends simple monitoring and plain comparison of measurements to predefined values that could lead to alarms. It covers the identification of time-varying patterns of important health variables and the prediction of their evolution. The sensitivity and specificity of the system’s operation will provide the basis for measuring the quality of the performed medical inference and decision-making.
When potentially negative trends are identified in the monitored health variables, the system issues effective pre-alarms or alarms, involving the automatic creation and execution of in-situ responses (such as audible and/or visible feedback through appropriately adapted familiar common devices) and external responses (engaging health service providers and other formal and informal health structures). Interaction scenarios with the user are integrated into the system’s operation either as part of a medical data acquisition schedule or as an automatically created system response. These involve a set of (intelligent) communication devices such as visible feedback devices (e.g. a TV set for displaying a message or alert), and audible feedback devices (e.g. a text-to-speech system for voice messages).
The integration of functional assessment and ADL (Activities of Daily Living) monitoring consist an important innovation of the HEARTS project. Motion detection devices and intelligent objects of everyday use (ranging from eating implements to furniture) will be appropriately adapted in order to capture changes of subject’s behavioural patterns (including mobility, nutrition, medication schedule).
The major outcomes expected include, the specification of a methodological framework for medical data acquisition through collections of diverse collaborating distributed devices and artefacts, the design and implementation of specialised medical inference and decision-making algorithms, and the design of response scenarios as a means to interact with the user. A novel telecare system will be realised that integrates all the above elements.