Mobile health company LGTmedical has announced plans to launch a signal-processing platform to enable vital-sign monitoring using smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Announced on Oct. 17, the interface, called Vital Signs DSP (Digital Signal Processor), connects through a mobile device's audio port to allow monitors to display blood oxygen levels, blood pressure and body temperature on a mobile device's screen.
The University of British Columbia, the Child & Family Research Institute and BC Children's Hospital spun off LGTmedical, also called LionsGate Technologies, in April 2012.
LGTmedical's proprietary mobile app, called Phone Oximeter, works with a light sensor attached to the finger to gauge the amount of oxygen in the blood. The app displays the blood oxygen concentrations on the mobile device's screen.
"The downloaded app drives the standard medical sensor through the audio port connected in the same way as standard headphones," Tom Walker, president and CEO of LGTmedical, told eWEEK in an email.
LGTmedical will launch Phone Oximeter to medical providers in 2013. The company also plans to introduce additional tools to work with the Vital Signs DSP interface, including apps to monitor blood pressure and temperature.
"Pairing medical diagnostics with mobile phones will greatly advance the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of critical diseases in developing countries," Dr. Mark Ansermino, associate professor, department of anesthesiology, pharmacology and therapeutics at the University of British Columbia, said in a statement. Ansermino and his team developed the technology.
"Mobile vital signs technology will serve as a valuable tool in assisting with medical diagnosis, decision support, chronic disease management and patient engagement in the coming years," said Walker.
The platform could reduce health care costs by allowing doctors to track patients' chronic conditions, Walker suggested.
Health care professionals expect remote health monitoring to reduce hospital readmissions and lead to better collaboration between doctors and patients. The m-health market will produce revenue of $23 billion by 2017 for mobile operators, device vendors, health care providers and application developers, according to a February 2012 report by consulting firm PwC.
Researchers first developed a prototype of its Pulse Oximeter app that connects to an iPhone Dock along with a standard pulse oximeter sensor. LGTmedical was able to reduce the cost of using the platform from around $500 with an iPhone Dock to $10 to $40 by connecting to a mobile device's audio jack.
"Proof-of-concept R&D demonstrated the ability to drive conventional medical sensors through the general-purpose audio subsystem of mobile devices," said Walker. "This was the significant innovation that would support an ultra-low-cost device configuration across multiple platforms," said Walker, referring to iOS, Android, laptops and tablets.
With the LGTmedical platform's inexpensive design, it could improve the adoption of mobile health in poor regions, according to Walker.
"This makes for a low-cost application that can be broadly and globally implemented," said Walker. "This will support inequities in the delivery of health care in the developing world, where affordability is challenging, as well as inequities in the consumer markets of North America and Europe, where product price points are important."