Chronic diseases have become easier to monitor and manage, for both patients and healthcare professionals, through a system that uses sensors attached to a type of T-shirt or “scattered” in the patient’s living environment.

How a T-shirt Can Help Treat Chronic Disease

One of the advantages that technology can offer healthcare is in helping to reduce the size and lessen the amount of equipment needed to manage patients’ health. The Chronious project, which is partly financed by the European Commission, offers healthcare professionals a way of diagnosing and managing chronic disease by means of a T-shirt or similar item of clothing worn by the patient. The clothing is fitted with sensors which send the doctor data taken directly from the patient – such as cardiac and respiratory measurements, plus the patient’s general movements and activity. Once this data has been gathered, it is automatically sent to a central platform via a GPRS/IP system. The central system uses a web interface which enables it to monitor the patient remotely, spotting changes in his/her state of health, and so to adapt treatment and recommendations accordingly.

Precise, automatic measurement and mobile data access

The system, which was specifically developed for monitoring chronic disease, has been tested on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Kidney Disease and Renal Insufficiency. It is designed to help reduce the overall care burden. It does so by on the one hand lessening the demands on patients to monitor their own state of health - taking measurements and so on. On the other hand, it helps reduce unnecessary visits to hospitals. The system also enables the doctor to get hold of more accurate and more complete data on the patient via the web interface. Thus the doctor will have within reach at all times the health status of a patient suffering from a chronic illness, updated automatically in real time. Even when s/he is “on the go” s/he can access the data via a mobile phone or a tablet. This in turn should lead to better treatment and better overall care.

The wider context

Moreover, Chronious can help doctors understand in more detail the chronic illness a patient is suffering from by incorporating data from external equipment, such as scales, glucometer, and blood pressure meter, depending on the patient’s need. The equipment can add this extra information for the healthcare professional automatically on the same interface. Similarly, the Chronious system can integrate a touchscreen device placed in the home of the patient. The device has two functions. The first is to gather supplementary information on the patient’s lifestyle, for example by entering data on meals so as to monitor eating habits. The second is to help patients themselves to manage their disease better by giving them advice, such as reminders about taking the prescribed medicine.