Technology pioneered in the aviation industry could be used to prevent complications after heart surgery say researchers in the North West.
Researchers from the Academic Surgery Unit at University Hospital South Manchester are collaborating with Lancaster University to develop new healthcare technology based on an aviation security system that gives pilots maximum information about the health of their aircraft and advanced warning of problems.
“There are a lot of parallels between flying an aircraft and observing a critically ill patient,” said Professor Garik Makarian, an Aviation Security expert from Lancaster University.
“Both the surgeon and the pilot are dealing with a lot of information coming from a variety of sensors. They both need to know not only what is happening now but what might happen in the future and safety is absolutely critical.”
The aim is to develop a real-time patient monitoring and risk prediction system which will use a variety of patient data to provide healthcare professionals with a clearer indication of what might happen to their patients in the near future.
“When a patient is critically ill or recovering from surgery, doctors monitor the patient’s blood pressure, temperature, pulse and other vital signs very closely but have to rely on their experience to predict what is likely to happen next,” said Makarian. “Pilots have the additional benefit of tools to help them do that. This new tool has the potential to give doctors an extra layer of intelligence to draw upon.”
The technology is currently in the early stages of development, but it is hoped that it will have applications in a variety of different healthcare settings.
“There are vast amounts of clinical data currently collected which is not analysed in any meaningful way,” said Dr Stuart Grant, a Research Fellow in Surgery.
“This tool has the potential to identify subtle early signs of complications from real time data. If the aviation technology can be successfully transferred to healthcare it has the potential to provide doctors with information which could improve outcomes for patients.”