Monitoring patients' health using cloud-based technology

24 July, 2013

Research at Charles Sturt University (CSU) aims to make it possible for a doctor to monitor the heart rate or check the blood pressure of a patient hundreds of kilometres away, using wireless sensors and mobile phone technology.

The research team led by Dr Tanveer Zia  from CSU's School of Computing and Mathematics in Wagga Wagga is designing a cloud-based health care monitoring system.

The project will develop the communication pathways to allow health information collected by a network of tiny wireless sensors to be transmitted using smartphones or tablet computers.

The information would be sent to a secure internet cloud storage so that health professionals and carers can access the data regardless of their location.

"The aim is to provide a cost effective and efficient health care service to Australia's ageing population, especially in rural and regional areas," Dr Zia said.

"What's new about this project is the combination of technological advancements such as smart phones, wireless sensors and cloud computing."

Dr Zia also hopes to develop a real-time alert system to warn of significant changes in a patient's health.

"For example if an elderly person in a remote area had a fall, the mobile device would send an alert to the doctor, carer and emergency services," he said.

The research is using sensors which are already being used in health care to monitor physiological signals.

Dr Zia and his team have already tested collecting the data and transferring it to an android phone, the next step is developing a web-based platform to store the information.

"Given the confidential nature of the data collected we aim to embed security measures to ensure that information can only be accessed by an authorised person," he said.

Dr Zia presented his research at the IEEE Body Sensor Networks conference held at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in Cambridge in the USA earlier this year.

"Internationally there's a lot of work to develop small, low cost, networked sensors to replace the current bulky medical devices," he said.

"What makes our research innovative is that we are using existing telecommunications infrastructure, in this case the 3G network to make the data available over longer distances which will be placed on a secure cloud-based platform to enable medical practitioners to access data from anywhere.

"This breakthrough study will contribute significantly in further advancing research in wireless sensor networks, cloud computing and security in wireless communication from health care perspectives."