AI Takes the Pressure Off Healthcare Workers

Advanced sensors with artificial intelligence monitor and adjust pressure points for people with limited mobility. The technology prevents painful, potentially life-threatening, injuries by providing automated individualized care, aids overworked caregivers, and avoids costly treatments for healthcare facilities.


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Image credit: XSensor Technology

The baby boomers have all grown up, and the healthcare industry is gearing up for the predicted surge in patients. The next several years will see more hospitalizations than ever before, a healthcare concern compounded by a shortage of providers and caregivers.

High tech solutions with integrated artificial intelligence are automating some tasks, enabling hospitals to ease the load for healthcare workers and reduce injuries to patients. One example is using AI-based sensors to relieve pressure points on prone patients. Individuals with limited mobility often get pressure injuries. These ulcers, or bedsores, can lead to death if not treated properly.

Hospital-acquired pressure injuries (HAPIs) affect 2.5 million patients each year in the U.S. alone. Treatment can cost up to $70,000 and typically isn’t covered by Medicare and Medicaid. HAPIs are the second leading hospital lawsuit claim, so prioritizing prevention can result in substantial savings for healthcare facilities.

Dynamic Pressure Monitors

Calgary-based XSensor Technology created a suite of pressure-sensing solutions for healthcare facilities. The ForeSite Intelligent Surface mattress system fits on a hospital bed or fitted cover and measures pressure points through more than 1,500 sensor cells. The AI-based solution adjusts pressure points to redistribute weight as needed. Data is displayed in real time, and a timing device tracks repositioning to assist caregivers. XSensor created a similar solution, ForeSite OR, for the operating room to relieve pressure during extensive surgical procedures.

Behind ForeSite is XSensor’s Intelligent Dynamic Sensing (IDS) Platform, which provides continuous monitoring and notifies staff when a patient needs to be physically turned. A Bluetooth connection enables clinicians to view patient data and statistics on a touchscreen tablet with HIPAA-compliant data encryption. Caregivers can generate reports, evaluate symmetry, and include anatomical markers. Still and video images of pressure data can be viewed, saved, and shared.

Seat Sensing Technology

HAPIs aren’t limited to hospital beds. They are common in wheelchair users as well. XSensor scaled down its mattress solution to create the ForeSite SS, designed for wheelchair use. The medically certified solution integrates nearly 3,000 sensors with high-resolution images and software.

With humble roots in tricked out wheelchairs, Florida-based Kalogon has ventured into this space as well. The company has developed the Kalogon Smart Cushion, which can identify and alleviate pressure points to redistribute weight, increase blood flow, and improve posture of wheelchair users. Designed by former aerospace engineers, the Smart Cushion uses air cells with integrated sensors that analyze and adjust pressure points in real time, reducing the likelihood of bedsores. The cushion automatically activates when someone sits on it and powers off when no pressure is applied.

The Kalogon Smart Cushion is linked to an app that allows wheelchair users to select a preset comfort level or upload a personalized setting. Users can also tweak settings to address sensitive areas or adjust firmness to improve comfort and reduce pain. Early users claim they can sit twice as long as they can on a standard inflatable cushion.

Tim Balz, Kalogon founder and CEO, had early experience building a smart wheelchair. In high school, he saw a classmate in a wheelchair struggling to pull a heavy load of recycling behind him. Balz souped up a wheelchair for him, adding a sound system, leg rests, and a hitch, so he could do his job. That led Balz to build a connected wheelchair that could monitor data, detect medical issues, call 911, and track GPS location data. The late Stephen Hawking endorsed Balz’s project, which later won an Intel® Challenge Award.

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