Covid-19 early warning system for medical staff developed in Cork

Cork University Hospital model remotely identifies those with a rising temperature

Prof Stephen Cusack of Cork University Hospital ‘delighted to have helped pioneer an innovative 24-hour monitoring device like this’ – with potential to rollout to all healthcare workers operating on Covid-19 frontline.

Prof Stephen Cusack of Cork University Hospital ‘delighted to have helped pioneer an innovative 24-hour monitoring device like this’ – with potential to rollout to all healthcare workers operating on Covid-19 frontline.

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An early warning system for detection of coronavirus symptoms among frontline medical staff at Cork University Hospital (CUH) has reportedly delivered promising results within days of being rolled out.

The Covid-19 remote early warning system (Crew) remotely identifies healthcare staff who may be developing a temperature, which is symptomatic of the illness. A quarter of all diagnosed cases of coronavirus in Ireland are among healthcare workers.

Crew was developed by healthcare staff, software industry specialists and experts at CUH. It combines existing technologies to allow early detection of coronavirus symptoms.

The single common variable in coronavirus cases is a rise in body temperature. Crew remotely identifies healthcare staff who may be developing a temperature that may be symptomatic of Covid-19 and therefore should not present to work.

Trials have been under way since early this month at the Cork hospital.

Five volunteers have been wearing underarm thermometers connected to smartphones, with temperature readings being sent to the monitoring platform on an hourly basis. Where a staff member’s temperature shows signs of being elevated, they are alerted to take appropriate action and self-isolate.

More volunteers are being added. Increased use of wearable devices improves data and tests the accuracy and efficacy over a longer period of time.

Smartphone

Crew consists of a wearable digital thermometer sensor; a sensor platform such as a smartphone, smartwatch or wearable device running the Crew app; and a cloud-based server that monitors incoming data and generates automatic alarms if temperature thresholds are breached.

The Crew (Covid-19 remote early warning system) components monitor body temperature and alert healthcare workers promptly when they must self isolate.
The Crew (Covid-19 remote early warning system) components monitor body temperature and alert healthcare workers promptly when they must self isolate

It is being developed in partnership between UCC’s college of medicine and health and Cork-based software consultancy 8 West – with the help of the Assert centre, which uses technology to enhance patient outcomes, and Tyndall National Institute at UCC.

“CUH emergency department staff are delighted to have helped pioneer an innovative 24-hour monitoring device like this. We are 24 hours on the frontline of care daily, and it’s good to know efforts like this are being made to support our wellbeing 24 hours a day too,” said specialist in emergency medicine Prof Stephen Cusack.

The chief executive of 8 West Consulting, John Murphy, said that Crew had the potential to help not only individual medics but the wider hospital population and the general public.

“The goal is to make the solution available to as many frontline staff as possible in Ireland and around the world.”