The BREATHE Respiratory Hackathons brought together designers, technicians, engineers, patients, doctors and creative thinking entrepreneurs to develop synergistic innovations and devices focused on the wellness and treatment of respiratory disease patients. They took place on the same weekend in London (Imperial College London), Boston (MIT Media Lab) and Israel (Technion University)
Team: Hemang Rishi – Engineer, Jun Kamei – Engineer, Koraldo Kajanaku – Designer, Neil Highley – Engineer, Phil Noonan – Physicist, Dave King – Designer.
COPD is a progressive disease that damages the lungs of the patient, slowly lowering oxygen transfer efficiency until the patient eventually passes away. It is an incredibly painful and drawn out process that not only affects the patient physically but also mentally. It is predicted to be the worlds third biggest cause of death by 2030 and costs the NHS a staggering £800 million pounds a year. Yet it is one of the most under-funded and under-researched of the worlds deadliest diseases.
Damage to the lung occurs when the patient has an exacerbation, a incredibly painful and scary experience that the patient rarely makes a 100% recovery from.
To get a completely holistic view of COPD patient suffering our team interviewed doctors, patients, field nurses and scientists. Through these interviews we discovered three main problem areas.
– Telemedicine can improve the chances of catching an exacerbation early but equipment is far to expensive to give to all patients.
– The main marker of an exacerbation is increased frequency of coughing, but is usually not noticed or ignored by patients.
– If caught early, chances of recovery are greatly increased.
We set ourselves the challenge of making telemedicine cheap, unobtrusive and most importantly accessible to all patients.
our medium, the smartphone. A ubiquitous device packed full of sensors that most people carry with them at all times. It was the perfect platform.
Our team developed an algorithm that would monitor coughing patterns and types of cough via the smartphone’s microphone. Spectrographs would show if the cough was normal via a thin red reading or if the cough was deep and phlegmy, signalling an exacerbation via a thick tall red reading. All off this could run on a simple smartphone bringing the costs down and patient adoption rate up.
For a sufferer of COPD having one less thing to worry about is incredibly important when trying to maintain a good quality of life. We developed the application to be completely passive, only alerting the patient when signs of an exacerbation are detected. Once the app detects an exacerbation it will prompt the patient to list any other symptoms, just one of these markers combined with the cough data can determine with great accuracy if an exacerbation is likely to happen much earlier than existing self-diagnosis techniques.
The application is linked to a back end system that can be accessed by the area nurse. In this application patient data can be augmented onto the coughing pattern graph. This can greater inform the nurse about the effectiveness of treatments and also warn them of when their patients are potentially not taking their medication – all in real time.