Monitor the spread of Covid-19 through a smart bracelet and an app that cross vital signs and satellite data. Reliably monitor patient health remotely. Understanding and blocking the chain of infections in health facilities. Develop predictive models on the progress of this and other viruses. And then use this technology in various fields, from work to tourism, helping the recovery of sectors hard hit by the health crisis. Get in on it Telemachus, the ambitious telemedicine project developed by a consortium of companies from Southern Italy led by g us, an Apulian company active in the space economy sector, and composed of Aulab, Nextome, SensorID, BionIT Labs and SaniLab Plus, in collaboration with Polytechnic of Bari and co-financed by a call fromEuropean Space Agency (ESA) through the funds of Italian Space Agency (ASI) e Ministry of Innovation and Digitization. The smart bracelets produced, the app and the dashboard to monitor data, announced last summer, have been in the testing phase for a few weeks. ASL Bari and al Polyclinic Riuniti of Foggia. The collected data will be processed by g-nous, for epidemiological analyzes and for the development of predictive models through artificial intelligence algorithms.
Telemachus (acronym for Telemedicine Monitoring and Collaborative Hub-and-Spoke System) is an innovative project, unique in the European panorama. It combines space technology and terrestrial technology, artificial intelligence and human skills, private companies and institutions, in a system that not only gives impetus to the fight against Covid-19, but also opens up telemedicine developments applicable in the immediate future in several areas, from work to tourism. The smart bracelet has indeed been certified as a Class 2A medical device with the aim of being marketed both in hospitals and companies.
“The Telemachus project – explains the CEO of g-nous Ruggiero Giannini – starts from the difficulties highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The hospitals, in fact, have been stormed by the huge influx of Covid patients, also causing slowdowns in the treatment of other diseases. General practitioners were not equipped with the necessary tools to effectively monitor patients in home isolation. All production activities were interrupted or limited due to the impossibility of guaranteeing the safety of operators and customers. We strongly believe that telemedicine represents the future of healthcare and society, and that technology can provide an impetus for this revolution. We are experimenting with an innovative product which, thanks to cooperation with health personnel, has the ambition to become an important tool in support of the national health service and of all private organizations that will need to guarantee safety in their operational contexts. We imagine a future in which every person has the possibility of being assisted at any time and in any place. Beyond the pandemic we are experiencing, we are conceiving a useful service not only during the Covid emergency, but also applicable to other diseases and other risk contexts. We hope to make this technology available to everyone as soon as possible. We are also already in contact with various realities, including foreign ones, for developments and integrations applicable in various sectors, such as tourism and safety in the workplace “.
THE SMART BRACELET. The device is the heart of the project. Aesthetically similar to a clock, made in Puglia and internally composed of several biomedical sensors, it has a double function: measures vital signs of the wearer and communicates with spatial (satellites) or terrestrial (BLE Bluetooth Low Energy devices) geolocation systems. It currently monitors heart rate, body temperature, blood oxygenation (SpO2) and electrocardiogram (ECG). The data is sent in real time to doctors who examine them from mobile through the app (available on iOS and Android devices) and from desktop through a web dashboard. Several implementations and integrations of data collected with other sensors are already under consideration, including parameters such as respiratory rate. The bracelet is recharged through a magnetic plate and has no display: as medical device, its purpose is to send certified data to a remotely connected professional, the only one capable of analyzing it correctly. It is therefore in no way comparable to one of the many smartwatches on the market. All components and technologies are made by companies of the consortium: the Bari g us coordinates project activities and develops artificial intelligence, Aulab (Bari) developed the app and the dashboard, Nextome (Bari) the positioning system, Sensor ID (Campobasso) oversaw the design of the sensors and the communication aspects of the system, BionIT Labs (Lecce) took care of the design and production of the bracelet, SaniLab Plus (Bari) of the enrollment of general practitioners and of the aspects of medical consultation within the system. The Polytechnic of Bari has provided technical-scientific supervision and is overseeing the progress of the pilot phase. The trial is currently underway in the Bari ASL and at the Policlinico Riuniti di Foggia in two different contexts: monitoring in the territory, according to a hub and spoke model, among the patients of the doctors of the Bari ASL, and monitoring within health facilities among the health personnel of the Policlinico di Foggia.
EXPERIMENTATION OF THE HUB AND SPOKE MODEL IN ASL BARI. The smart bracelets are already supplied to the General Medicine of the ASL Bari and the devices are being distributed to a sample of patients – selected by epidemiologists and statisticians – to monitor their vital parameters remotely. Here the experimentation follows a hub and spoke model: widespread monitoring throughout the territory is made possible by distributed devices and the app that send data in real time to the General Practitioner (Spoke) under the control of the ASL Bari (Hub).
“Telemachus – confirms dr. Vincenzo Contursi, general practitioner at the ASL Bari – is an integrated telemedicine system that allows you to remotely monitor and manage Covid patients at all stages of the disease, also thanks to the clinical risk card and tele-visits by appointment. The experience gained in recent months confirms the validity of digital innovation in protecting the health of citizens and in the leap in quality of the clinical practice of the Family Doctor”.
INDOOR EXPERIMENTATION AT THE POLICLINICO RIUNITI DI FOGGIA. Another set of smart bracelets is supplied to the Policlinico Riuniti of Foggia for indoor experimentation. Here the goal is to monitor the health conditions of health personnel to promptly trace and block the chain of contagion within the hospital structure and thus avoid an outbreak among those who save lives. In this context, the bracelet uses GNSS space technology (that of GPS and Galileo) and BLE technology (Bluetooth Low Energy), a wireless system ideal for closed and confined spaces.
“Is critical – says the professor Maria Pia Foschino Barbaro, Professor of Diseases of the Respiratory System at the University of Foggia and Director of the Department of Diseases of the Respiratory System D’Avanzo – Policlinico Riuniti of Foggia – prevent infections in the hospital, both because health workers are the subjects most at risk of infection and because they can themselves become vehicles of the virus to hospitalized patients or other staff with whom one works closely. This technology therefore makes it possible to reconstruct contacts and better limit the number of potentially infected subjects and, subsequently, to monitor who has contracted the virus, at home”.
“The tests carried out in the department are very satisfactory – confirms prof. Donato Lacedonia, Medical Director of the complex operating unit of Diseases of the Respiratory System D’avanzo – Policlinico Riuniti of Foggia – and the data collected are in line with the hospital instrumentation. The staff are responding enthusiastically. Monitoring subjects through dedicated apps and platforms will allow you to always have the clinical picture under control and therefore intervene promptly to prevent sudden worsening”.
RELATIONS BETWEEN INFECTIONS AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS. The plus that makes Telemachus a unique telemedicine system is the ability to cross vital parameters with environmental conditions thanks to the GNSS positioning system and the modularity of the system. It will therefore be possible to understand how much, for example, smog, temperature variations and other climatic or social factors influence the chain of infections. Fundamental information to develop predictive models on epidemics such as that from Covid-19. All this with the security of a data coding system that guarantees the anonymity of the people who wear the device.
DESCRIPTIVE AND PREDICTIVE MODELS. The large amount of data collected by Telemachus in the pilot phase will be analyzed in collaboration between the Polytechnic of Bari and g-nous, to explore the potential hidden in them thanks to artificial intelligence. The idea is to have an additional tool to carry out epidemiological analyzes on the behavior and spread of the virus and to develop descriptive and predictive statistical models.
APPLICATIONS IN WORK AND TOURISM. The technology developed has much wider application margins than in general medicine and hospitals. “The Telemachus project – explain the profs. Antonio Messeni Petruzzelli e Umberto Panniello of the Polytechnic of Bari – it may offer important implications for developing new models and strategies for monitoring, useful for supporting the recovery of all those sectors that have suffered the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic ”. In extreme work contexts, for example, the bracelet can monitor workers’ vital signs in real time and prevent illness, reducing accidents and preserving the health of staff. And also in tourism, in closed ecosystems such as cruise ships or villages, as experimented at the Policlinico Riuniti in Foggia, Telemachus makes it possible to guarantee the safety of operators and customers.