Telemetrics and Mother Health

Telemetrics and Mother Health

March 6, 2013

That’s not a mistake. Telemetrics is monitoring my mother’s health.

I’m not one to take work home, but as I listened to her cardiologist explain what would happen after she left the hospital I couldn’t help but smile. The doctor was hanging a black box on my mom in order to read the electronic impulses of her heart, 24/7. She was in the hospital because she wasn’t “feeling good,” and an urgent-care test had detected not only a rapid pulse, but also an extra beat every now and then. By the time they transported her to the ER, the beat was gone.

It showed up later, but the cardiologist didn’t know what caused it, how often it happened, or whether it was the reason she wasn’t “feeling good.” And, to his credit and her family’s peace of mind, he didn’t want to do an invasive procedure on an 85-year-old woman without more information.

The little black box is a heart monitor, which affixes to two patches on my mom’s chest. The leads click onto the patches, and the box fits in her pocket or hangs on her waistband.

It records the electronic patterns of her heart and transmits the data to a central location. She doesn’t have to do anything except occasionally check that it is functioning and take note of the time and circumstances if she “doesn’t feel good.”

The cardiologist can review the data at his leisure, and when he follows up with her in a few weeks he can compare his data to her journal. At that point, we’re hopeful that he’ll have enough data to make a wise decision on subsequent treatments.

I smiled because the similarity to machine health was so obvious.

  • A machine exhibits an occasional problem, described by the operator is “it doesn’t feel right.”
  • The cause is not readily apparent, and it doesn’t happen when the technician is anywhere near the machine.
  • Enter telematics, which monitors the machine’s performance and “vitals,” electronically transmitting information to a central location.

I think we can all take the analogy from here, but the value of telemetrics proves itself in 1) uptime and 2) accuracy. My mom is out of the hospital, pursuing most of her regular activities, and the cardiologist knows exactly what’s going on with her heart. And as the manager of her treatment, he can use this data to treat her in what we all hope is an accurate and knowledgeable manner.

That’s a technological advance that pays off.