Northern Ireland

NI firms in Boston for hi-tech health meeting

Dr Peter Donnelly
Image caption Dr Peter Donnelly said remote devices offer the chronically ill a better quality of life

Fifteen Northern Ireland companies are travelling to Boston this week to promote the latest in medical technology.

Blood pressure, heart rate andtemperature can all be measured in the privacy of your home.

The latest in medical technology offers chronically ill people a regular check-up without a visit to the surgery.

The hi-tech machines offer patients a life away from hospital and save on health boards' costs.

The Connected Health Symposium in the US city will feature new ways of monitoring patients' vital signs at a distance.

The latest technology takes a range of readings, including blood pressure and heart rate.

The data is sent to a doctor or nurse who can spot changes in a patient's condition and react. Remote monitoring is a chance to keep patients in check without bringing them into hospital.

"This applies particularly to patients with chronic conditions which by definition need to be monitored regularly," said Dr Peter Donnelly, chief executive of H BioBusiness Northern Ireland - the business association for life and health technology companies in Ireland.

"Being able to treat a patient at home means that we can offer them a better quality of life, while at the same time reducing the cost of caring for them.

"It's effectively combining medical device technologies with ICT technologies, allowing us to monitor patients remotely."

Dr Donnelly said that, with the growing cost of health care, and the pressure to cut costs wherever possible, there was a great opportunity for companies which provide the means to treat people in their homes.

Belfast company Intelesens is one of those appearing in Boston.

It fits patients with a stick-on electrode like a large band-aid, which monitors vital signs.

Intelesens Managing Director Michael Caulfield said there was great potential for the device in the north American market.

"One of our devices is on trial at Massachusetts General Hospital," he said.

"This has given us the independent clinical validation that it is as good as we say it is. It has also given us a very good foothold in the United States market.

"There is a huge drive to keep patients out of hospital as long as possible. Being able to monitor them while they are recovering at home not only has health advantages, but also significant economic advantages."

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