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COVID-19: Advances in Care

From Hospital to Home: Monitoring COVID-19

Wireless Wearable Device Tracks Virus Symptoms

This article is modified from the original, which appeared in Northwestern Now. Read the full article here.

The more scientists understand about COVID-19 (coronavirus) symptoms, the better care physicians will be able to deliver. John A. Rogers, PhD, Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Neurological Surgery at Northwestern University, has led the development and trial of a small, patch-like device that can be worn 24/7, capture symptom data in real time and transmit it wirelessly to a secure cloud for analysis.

The device is about the size of a postage stamp. It is attached externally at the base of the throat, where it can capture cough intensity and patterns, chest wall movement indicating breathing patterns, respiratory sounds, heart rate and body temperature. About 25 people, including patients who are being treated for COVID-19 and the healthcare workers who treat them, are using the device in the trial.

In just the first two weeks, scientists amassed more than 1,500 cumulative hours of data. Artificial intelligence is used to analyze the data collected and uncover subtle but potentially lifesaving insights into disease symptoms and illness progression.

Besides advancing knowledge about the virus, the device itself may also be useful for home-based monitoring of patients with COVID-19; if their symptoms take a worrisome turn, their physicians could be alerted, leading to early intervention. The device may also provide an early warning for healthcare workers at risk of contracting COVID-19 and for patients at high risk for severe illness from the virus.

Dr. Rogers and his team at the Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Building on the Northwestern Medicine campus in downtown Chicago are already producing dozens of devices per week and could produce up to hundreds of devices per week in-house if needed to meet demand.