Telehealth for developing world
Researchers: Arvind Raghu, David Springer, Dr Kirsty Bobrow, Dr Gari Clifford, Prof. Lionel Tarassenko
Clinical collaborators: Prof. Andrew Farmer (Dept of Primary Health Care), Prof. Bongani Mayosi (Dept of Medicine, University of Cape Town)
Funding: Wellcome Trust and Department of Health (Centre of Excellence in Medical Engineering)
This work is currently focusing on three main projects, two of which involve clinical trials in South Africa: the capture of heart sounds using a mobile phone (m-stethoscope) and the management of hypertension using mobile phone based technology. The m-stethoscope project uses low-cost, hardware typically available in developing countries. A hands-free microphone is attached to the ‘stethoscope’ allowing the mobile phone to record the heart sounds. Algorithms have been developed to detect and identify the first two heart sounds from the mobile phone recordings, which enables an estimate of heart rate to be derived for each patient. A protocols has been drafted to use the m-stethoscope for screening children at risk of rheumatic heart disease.
The second strand of our m-health research in South Africa aims to address the problem of hypertension. Problems in providing good care for hypertension exist at all levels of the health care service (patients, providers, and the health care infrastructure), with high numbers of people with undiagnosed and under-treated hypertension. A three-arm randomized control trial to evaluate the impact of mobile-phone support on blood pressure management and control, in patients with newly-diagnosed and established hypertension, will finish by Easter 2014.
We are also extending our m-health work to India, focusing on evaluation of the risk of cardiovascular disease in rural populations, in collaboration with the George Institute for Global Health Care.