Wireless Physiological Monitoring System a Boon for Dialysis Patients

A wireless physiological monitoring system designed by the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) of National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), southern Taiwan, has proved to increase medical efficiency and safety for dialysis patients.

BME was invited by the Ministry of Education (MOE) to exhibit three of their new inventions — the “i-Transport” carrier, the “Wireless Physiological Monitoring System for Hemodialysis” and the “Smart Tourniquet,” which have made revolutionary impact on the biomedical field — at a recent forum.

The “wireless physiological monitoring system for hemodialysis” was developed by NCKU BME Professor Tain-Song Chen. It helps dialysis centers monitor the physiological status of dialysis patients.

Besides providing warning signal during emergency in the hemodialysis process, the system also improves the safety level of the dialysis process because it allows one nurse to simultaneously monitor physiological parameters of 50 patients, thus helping to solve the problem of shortage of nursing staff, according to Dr. Chen.

He said that in the current dialysis process at dialysis centers, nurses and medical staff have to measure and record patients’ blood pressure every 30 minutes in order to monitor their physiological status.

Usually, quite a number of dialysis patients would be receiving dialysis treatment at the same time. Traditional steps to measure blood pressure of dialysis patients include tying the cuff, inflating it, deflating it and recording blood pressure – a process that usually takes two to three minutes.

Hence, one medical staff or nurse can only observe the blood pressure of approximately 10 to 15 patients provided the medical worker does not rest the whole working day. However, the new system enables one nurse to simultaneously monitor and observe blood pressure of 50 or more dialysis patients, said Chen.

This system uses Zigbee to set up a wireless transmission system. The reasons for using ZigBee, Chen said, are its low electricity consumption, low cost, its ability to support large amount of network nodes and different network topologies as well as its low complexity, high speed, high reliability, and high safety level.

By using ZigBee’s strengths to design a wireless blood pressure measurement system, the device can simultaneously measure and monitor the blood pressure of several dialysis patients with high measurement accuracy, according to Chen.