The project Recover@Home started in June 2020 as response to the Call of the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) Innovation Space, to tackle the urgent issues around COVID-19.
TU/e innovation Space is the centre of expertise for challenge-based learning and student entrepreneurship at TU/e, a learning hub for education innovation and an open community where students, researchers, industry, and societal organizations can exchange knowledge and develop responsible solutions to real world-challenges.
One of the world challenges that the TU/e tries to tackle are the issues around COVID-19. For this the Technical University of Eindhoven started the ‘TU/e against COVID-19‘ initiative from the outset of the first corona wave.
The Recover@Home student team started in June 2020, with just 5 to 6 students and has now grown to about 15 members. Jerome Baart and Michelle Klaassen who have been working within Recover@Home from the start shared their experiences in an interview.
A world crisis requires quick action, creative solutions and cooperation. TU/e, known for its proven track record on cooperation with the medical world and industry, rises to the challenge. TU/e has set up a platform where supply and demand, problem owners and solution providers, are brokered. The key resource is the creativity, brainpower and energy of our researchers, students and student teams. For the challenge TU/e against COVID-19 a call for various projects has been send out. From this different projects and initiatives have been developed. Amongst which project Recover@Home.
Healthcare in the Netherlands is going undergoing change due to different care demand as a result of the current COVID-19 crisis. Hospitals are under increasing pressure to deal with the growing demand to manage patients with different levels of acuteness and at the same time handle the contamination risk associated with this highly infectious disease. Healthcare professionals (HCP) need to discharge patients quicker and manage patient rehabilitation at home and through primary care. At the same time (ex-)COVID-19 patients are facing many uncertainties.
The Recover@Home student team is working on a solution that enables better rehabilitation at home for patients after being discharged from hospital. With the solution(s) of Recover@Home there are much less required physical check-ups, with less pressure on hospitals, with lower risk on contamination. These reduced check-ups result in less travel between home and hospital. And last but not least with these solution(s) patients (and their relatives) can feel more comfortable when being able to recover at home.
The team has grown to fifteen members. In addition to biomedical technology, the fields of automotive technology, psychology and technology, industrial design, and business administration are also represented. Recently students of Fontys University of Applied Sciences have joined the team. Everyone has their own task. For example, one of the students interviews healthcare professionals to find out what bodily functions should be monitored. Others are developing the device, platform, and questionnaires for patients in order to hear from them what they need and what they do not actually want.
The aim for the team is to evolve into a start-up. They have a business coach and there is help from professors and postdocs from the university and from experts in the field. The Maxima Medical Centre and the Catharina Hospital as well as Philips are closely involved with Recover@Home.
There are lots of different problems stemming from the corona crisis. One of these concerns the recovery of patients who have been in the intensive care unit (ICU). How long a patient needs to recuperate varies from patient to patient. But there is a general rule of thumb that if a patient has been in the ICU for one single day, they need a whole week to recover. A patient with corona who is in the ICU can remain there for two to three weeks. In that case, they need several months to recover.
Instruments are required to measure the patient’s vital functions, in hospitals, but also for home use. As patient you need to measure the most important factors and you may not be able to measure everything with one device. Ideally you want to use one integrated device. One that is also affordable and can be used at home. The student team is investigating, among other things, whether or not existing solutions can be used. For example, the MMC hospital already has a similar online platform which is also used by patients suffering from heart failure or COPD. This meets all the quality and safety requirements that are applicable in the healthcare sector.
The solution involves an online platform. This allows doctors or nurses to communicate very easily with a patient. With a specially developed device, the patient could measure their own heart rate, oxygen saturation levels in the blood, lung function, and muscle strength at home. These are key bodily functions that can be monitored. Something that has been learned from experiences from various healthcare professionals, including those from the MMC and the Catharina Hospital.
It is not possible to draw a conclusion from measured heart rates or oxygen levels. Every patient also has their personal situation which can influence the data. For example, oxygen saturation levels are lower this could have been caused by shortage of breath, but also the patients activity. Besides the measured data, further questions regarding the psychological and mental state of the patient could be automatically raised via an automated questionnaire. Good physical values, but a poor mental state, can still pose a threat to the patient’s health.
To predict whether the patient is deteriorating so that the professional involved can take immediate action, incorporating a warning system into the platform is needed. A warning signal with clear indication if a measurement value is different or a trend is noticeable, whenever the measured values change too much. This allows to predict whether the patient is deteriorating. The healthcare professional involved can assess the situation and take immediate action when needed.
For patients to recover at home, this calls for innovative solutions dealing with the following aspects:
- Health Care Professionals (HCPs) need to do a holistic patient assessment to create a personal health plan that the patients can execute outside the hospital. These personal health plans should be the results of a series of assessment and leading to a program that is easy to engage with for the patients at home. These assessments should comprise, but not limit to:
- Physical assessment
- Physiological assessment
- Mental/psychological assessments
- Intelligent Assistance for Rehabilitation at home:
- Biomedical devices for home use to measure vitals that are relevant to the care team (for example SpO2, respiratory rate, muscle power, cardiac health, etc.)
- Devices should collect data and transfer this to hospital cloud and integration with information from other sources
- Advance analytical tools to give HCP an accurate view of the patient at distance (Digital Twin)
- Novel Remote Rehabilitation delivery models
- Novels ways to connect all stakeholders in the case management (HCP in hospitals and in primary care, patient’s close relatives, pharmacy, visiting nurses)
- Decision support tools to identify issues early, triage risk to the right level of response
- Data sharing in care network
- Ability to collect information inside the home and share it among HCP network
- Enable communication between patients and HCP
Recover@Home project outcome:
- Problem definition: identify key problems from HCP through in-depth interviews and validation rounds
- Solution definition: generate solutions and identify those with the highest business impact and technical feasibility
- MVP in an MPE: Creation of a Minimal Viable Product/Solution in a minimal viable ecosystem (Hospital, Primary care, Home health, Nursing Home)
- Business start-up: Towards a pilot and a scale-up project
For more info or if you want to support please contact recoverathome@ tue.nl
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