1.4.2016

With a continuous monitoring of the health conditions, through the use of a vest and a Smartphone app, it will be possible to detect problems of heart failure in an early stage. This is the goal of SmartBEAT, an AAL programme funded project, which involves ten European partners and is coordinated by the Portuguese research center Fraunhofer AICOS. The SmartBEAT considers three stakeholders: patients and their formal and informal caregivers. The project represents an investment of two million euros and the kick-off was in May.

The SmartBEAT project aims to address the needs of senior Heart Failure (HF) patients and their formal and informal caregivers by offering an integrated solution to leverage patient self-care through autonomous condition monitoring and real-time feedback to their careers. Using SmartBEAT, it is possible to improve disease outcomes and enhance the quality of life of senior Heart Failure patients. This objective will be achieved through the acquisition of user’s physiological data using a Vital Signs System and a Smartphone application integrated with a Monitoring Engine and a Caregivers Gateway for data analysis, management and reporting. The main challenges to be addressed by Fraunhofer AICOS are related with the improvement of the crackles detection algorithm, development of the medication adherence and physical activity monitoring module.

To Liliana Ferreira, researcher at Fraunhofer AICOS and project coordinator, ’the SmartBEAT is extremely innovative since it allows a continuous monitoring, which may represent considerable savings in terms of hospitalizations and also even avoid them’. ’The goal is to enhance the prevention rather than the cure or treatment’, adds the researcher.

The SmartBEAT is a simple, low cost and quick, solution for seniors monitoring, reducing costs with the disease, the rate of hospitalizations and, ultimately, improving prognosis and reducing mortality in this population group. SmartBEAT is a three year project (36 months) however, during this period, the consortium intends to market a commercial solution based on it. In May 2016, the project will enter the trial phase to be implemented in Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway.

The increasing number of patients with heart failure is overloading the public healthcare systems. In Portugal, there are 260,000 individuals with Heart Failure and in Europe this figure reaches 15,000,000. The prevalence of the disease in citizens with 70+ years is of over 10%. In Portugal, Europe and in the U.S., the costs associated with this pathology represent one to two percent of all costs related to healthcare and it is estimated that the recurrent hospitalizations, common in HF patients, correspond to, approximately, 70% of all HF costs. An example of the increasing impact of HF on health systems is the priority given in the U.S. to the development of strategies that reduce readmission of patients with HF.

The SmartBEAT is a European project funded by the Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme, which involves 10 partners, including Fraunhofer AICOS and Hospital São João. The funding, over two million euros, will be carried out by various entities from each country, namely the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).