Design Engineering

U of T-developed medical device monitors COVID-19 patients remotely

By DE Staff   

General Medical

Small Raspberry Pi-based PulseOx system reduces PPE use and medical staff exposure.

A team from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering has created a small medical device for remotely monitoring the vital signs of COVID-19 patients, so that medical workers can preserve personal protective equipment (PPE). Currently, hospitals use a fingertip probe to monitor patient’s blood oxygen levels but they require that nurses read it every four hours and at-risk patients require more frequent readings.

“Because health-care workers need to put on and remove PPE before interacting with patients, this requires considerable time and use of resources,” says Associate Professor Willy Wong in the Edward S. Rogers Sr. department of electrical and computer engineering and the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, who led the project.

So that medical staff can responsibly keep their distance from COVID-19 patients, staff at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital contacted the University of Toronto’s engineering depart to see if researchers could come up with a way for clinicians to monitor respiratory probes remotely. During the following week, Dr. Wong and PhD candidates Bill Shi, Yan Li and Brian Wang designed a prototype using a small Raspberry Pi Zero to test in a hospital setting.

The small device allows doctors and nurses to read a patient’s oxygen saturation levels every few minutes from a nursing station. The team is currently working with Mount Sinai and Toronto General Hospital to determine the feasibility and demand for these devices. If successful, the team says their device is rapidly deployable and scalable to other facilities and applications.



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