At patients’ bedsides following a stay in hospital
Intersysto, a specialist in healthcare applications, has just developed 3S Homecare, a sophisticated system for monitoring patients in their home. This application uses, among others, the Sigfox network launched throughout Belgium by ENGIE M2M.
ENGIE’s Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) has covered all of Belgium since early 2017. LPWAN is based on Sigfox technology and is a global network geared towards the Internet of Things (IoT). ENGIE serves as the sole operator of the network in Belgium via its subsidiary ENGIE M2M. The network generates low costs, consumes little energy, has a very long range and uses a particular bandwidth that emits waves even in difficult areas, such as cellars in urban areas. The network can be used in a variety of ways, such as to create smart water meters or to gauge the level of large oil tanks. Tournai-based Intersysto decided to utilise the network when launching an application intended to monitor patients who have returned home following a stay in hospital or even to monitor older people living at home. We spoke to Dominique Duhayon, Intersysto’s CEO, to find out more.
How would you describe 3S Homecare?
Dominique Duhayon: “3S Homecare is an IT platform that is literally at a patient’s bedside when they return home from hospital. It enables communication between the patient and those monitoring them. In other words, it is an intercommunication hub shared by all stakeholders, each of whom is fully aware of the actions and observations of the others. Before 3S Homecare, such centralised communication did not exist and information was not passed on to healthcare providers. Let me give you a simple example. The person delivering a patient’s meals can now report whether everything is going well and if the patient is eating well, or can sound the alarm if they notice anything wrong.”
How does the system work in practice?
D.D.: “A tablet is installed in the patient’s home. The patient and their carers enter the required information, such as details of action taken or the handover log, on the tablet during their visits. Data are sent to the platform, which communicates with the coordination centre of the patient’s insurance fund, which in turn transmits the information to those concerned. Of course, this is the same centre that takes care of patients returning home following a stay in hospital and arranges the care recommended by doctors. Treating physicians and specialists can now follow their patients’ day-to-day progress. Data are also available on Wallonia’s ‘Réseau Santé Wallon’ health network. I usually say that the solution gives doctors information as if their patient were just around the corner.”
Is 3S Homecare already active?
D.D.: “Absolutely. We spent three years developing this project, which received an award from the King Baudouin Foundation in August 2016. It has now been rolled out in the homes of 50 people covered by the insurance fund Solidaris. The solution was selected by Maggie De Block, the Federal Minister of Public Health, in her call for projects, and a further 25 people have been covered by 3S Homecare since June 1. A project covering 50 patients is also currently being studied.”
What role does the ENGIE M2M network play?
D.D.: “3S Homecare uses a conventional Internet network for some of its transmissions made over Wi-Fi or 4G. For good reason, as a handover log or short text written by a healthcare provider or a patient cannot be transmitted over the ENGIE M2M network, which is limited to 12 bytes every ten minutes. However, Sigfox technology can be used to transmit encrypted data collected by patients themselves, such as blood pressure or blood sugar levels. As part of a project we are developing with the Liège University Hospital on pneumological and oncological pathologies, patients will be able to regularly enter data on their lung capacity. They will measure capacity using a spirometer and 3S Homecare will transmit the results. The spirometer will be equipped with multi-functional sensors that measure ambient temperature, humidity and pressure. These sensors will communicate with the platform via the ENGIE M2M network. This is crucial, as these three elements affect the spirometer bulb and consequently the patient’s results.”
We’re guessing that you’re pleased with the network and ENGIE M2M.
D.D.: “Absolutely. We make a productive team. ENGIE M2M helped us to develop the IoT connection to our solution. They are very close and very available. The technology itself is remarkable. Just imagine. There is no roaming, meaning that even if a sensor is located in Paris, it will transmit information and the information will be received. We ultimately plan to take 3S Homecare further, as it may well be particularly suitable for monitoring older people. We are also considering using the ENGIE M2M network to check individuals’ water and electricity consumption. Any anomalies noted may indicate health problems.”