Researchers at Fraunhofer AICOS concluded this month a 3-month long pilot trial of the SmartBEAT technology. With a kit of sensors and a smartphone app instead of ECG monitors, at home instead of the doctor's office, 10 patients with Heart Failure spent the last 3 months monitoring their own conditions in a way never before possible. Alongside them, 11 caregivers also participated in the trial and discovered how mobile technology can bring them closer to patients.


In a field trial in Portugal that ended recently, researchers at AICOS have demonstrated that sensors coupled with smartphones can effectively and noninvasively provide detailed information about the user’s health. The trials showed that mobile technology can this way leverage patient self-care through autonomous condition monitoring and real-time feedback.

The SmartBEAT technology makes it possible to improve the health and enhance the quality of life of senior Heart Failure patients, through the acquisition of user’s physiological data for data analysis, management and reporting. At the core of the technology is a detection algorithm and the physical activity monitoring module, both developed by researchers at AICOS.

During the trial, researchers observed that daily adherence to the system by patients surpassed 95%. Patients who have been using the solution have said it proved effective in increasing awareness of their health and encouraging physical activity as a means of preventing Heart Failure.

Health professionals and caregivers also provided positive feedback, reporting that the technology contributes to a change in the patients’ daily habits and allowing them to be more autonomous and in control. As such, once the patient detected an increase of weight or deviation of blood pressure, for example, they would make changes to balance their health parameters back to their baseline. There were even patients who lost as much as 4kg throughout the 3-month trial after significantly increasing their physical activity.

"The goal of the technology we're creating is to detect problems of Heart Failure in an early stage and encourage self-care through prevention", says Inês Lopes, manager of the project. "We want this solution to fit lives of the people who will use them in the end, and that's the ultimate goal of this trial. That’s why we conduct our research not in the laboratory but instead rely primarily on the feedback of end users", explains the researcher.

The SmartBEAT considers 3 stakeholders: patients and their formal and informal caregivers, and the trial involved 10 patients, 7 informal caregivers, 3 cardiologists and 1 nurse.

In this project, launched in 2015 and coordinated by AICOS, 11 European partners bundled their expertise to enable optimization of quality of care, reduced costs, reduced number of readmissions and, ultimately, the improvement of the prognosis and reduced mortality in Heart Failure patients.

The 3-month long trial implemented in Portugal ended this month, and researchers are now preparing to implement upcoming trials in Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway.