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Wearable Ward Monitoring Solutions - GE Healthcare

GE Healthcare is a global company that has been operating for many years, with almost 50,000 employees and a revenue of almost 20 billion dollars. The company is best known for its medical imaging devices, but one of its business units, Monitoring Solutions, is focused on manufacturing multi-parameter monitors for operating rooms and intensive care units. Recently, GE Healthcare established a smaller unit that focuses on wearable patient monitoring, which is the department that will be discussed in this video.

Patient Monitoring in Hospital:

In an intensive care unit, a sedated patient is connected to many cables and tubing to measure various parameters. The nursing staff is interested in knowing whether the tissues are properly oxygenated, whether the medication is correct, and whether other vital organs are functioning well. Therefore, lots of information is required to answer these kinds of questions. On the other hand, in general wards, patients are not monitored at all. The vitals are checked once or twice a day, which is a recognized problem since incidents may happen.

Wearable Patient Monitoring:

The wearable patient monitoring department of GE Healthcare has recently released a product called the Portrait Mobile Monitoring Solution. It includes two wireless transmitters, one measuring the respiration rate, and the other measuring the blood oxygen level. The system also includes a small mobile phone-like patient monitor that can be used in standalone mode or transmit data to the hospital server.

Why Respiration Rate and Blood Oxygen Level?

Respiration rate has been recently recognized as a very good early indicator of patient deterioration, and there are a good number of articles on this topic. The respiration rate can be measured in many different ways, but GE Healthcare chose to use bio-impedance, a very traditional way used in EKG devices, to capture the body movement. The reason behind this choice was that it provides much better reliability than other methods like breathing belts.

How Was Respiration Rate Measured?

To get an accurate respiration rate and low alarm burden, GE Healthcare started by mapping the human body to understand where to get the best possible signals for respiration rate calculation. They used EIT devices to scan the whole body and chose three electrode locations, two leads, or two channels, to capture the thoracic and abdominal breathing effort. Then, on the algorithmic side, GE Healthcare developed an algorithm to remove the cardiogenic component from the impedance signal, which captures everything and makes up near detection very difficult.


The wearable patient monitoring solution developed by GE Healthcare provides continuous signals, and the device can alarm on life-threatening events almost immediately. This is very different from wellness devices that can provide very good trend information but are not suitable for medical analysis. The wearable patient monitoring solution is a standalone device that provides a full feature patient monitor and can transmit data to the hospital server. The focus on respiration rate and blood oxygen level is crucial since they are early indicators of patient deterioration, and GE Healthcare used bio-impedance to capture the body movement, providing much better reliability than other methods.

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