Based on technology developed in recent years, the e-CoVig project implemented a low-cost solution for rigorous and real-time monitoring of COVID-19 symptoms.
To do so, the research team created a mobile app that makes use of basic smartphone features to extract valuable clinical data — such as breathing, heart rate and mental health symptoms — which is then stored and synchronized to the BrainAnswer platform, a web -based patient management portal that healthcare professionals can access and monitor.
Hugo Silva, the IT researcher leading the project, said: “When you think the average healthcare professional follows a few dozen patients diagnosed with the disease, and that follow-ups normally involve actual contact through voice calls, you can guess this is quite time-consuming and labor-intensive.
“The platform’s focus both on healthcare professionals and patients was simplicity, so that technology becomes a tool that can improve people's lives, and not as much a burden. So the whole process is quite streamlined, and in very few steps doctors can have a direct glimpse of how their patients are behaving and how their symptoms progress over time”.
To give clinicians a more comprehensive view of COVID-19 symptomatology, the team also developed a specialized wearable device that connects to the app and is able to measure more complex data than our smartphones can, including oxygen saturation levels and body temperature.
Although the device is still in the validation stage, researchers are confident it will be become commercially available within a very short timeframe, as it could prove essential to public health authorities and hospitals fighting the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are trying to provide a solution that is extremely low-cost and accessible to everyone, but ideally this would be provided by the national healthcare system”, Hugo Silva explains.
“It’s both beneficial and cost-saving for the Directorate-General of Health (DGS) to provide the device free of charge to patients, as it can facilitate follow-ups and at the same time alleviate some of the pressure on hospitals and healthcare professionals”.
Following the FCT's call for solutions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, back in May, the e-CoVig project got the maximum approved funding of 30,000 euros.
It was a joint effort between IT, the Institute for Systems and Robotics (ISR), the Cardiovascular Center of ULisboa (CCUL), the Faculty of Medicine of ULisboa, the College of Health Technology of Coimbra (EsteC) and BrainAnswer.
To know more about the e-CoVig platform, watch our interview with lead researchers Hugo Silva and João Sanches (ISR):