The current COVID-19 pandemic has stretched medical staff in some areas to their limits, along with the personal protective equipment (PPE) resources necessary for safe treatment. One challenge is that fingertip blood oxygen saturation probes, used for treatment at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, need to be checked by nursing staff at least ever four hours. Much more in some cases.
Entering the patient's room for a check consumes time and PPE. Clinicians at the hospital reached out to University of Toronto (U of T) engineering staff to see if they could develop a solution to instead monitor the probes remotely and continuously. In response, the team of PhD candidates Bill Shi, Yan Li, and Brian Wang, led by professor Willy Wong, were able to put together a Raspberry Pi-based prototype in a matter of three days, with hospital testing a few days after that.
The monitoring device needed to be small, cheap, and affordable, requirements that were easily met by the Raspberry Pi. According to Wong, “The most challenging part has been decoding the data the monitors provide because there are a number of different manufacturers of these probes and each one has its own format.”
After much hard work, they were able to overcome that difficulty to get the system implemented in just two weeks. The Pi sends vital signs wirelessly to a server that Wong’s team deployed, allowing oxygen saturation levels to be read from the nursing station or even via a doctor's smartphone — saving time, PPE and possible contamination.
[h/t: Raspberry Pi]