Researchers at Rajalakshmi Engineering College in Chennai, India, and in Sydney, Australia, have published a paper laying out the framework for a “contactless tele-health system” that uses NFC technology to enable healthcare workers to upload, access and update health and treatment data for individual patients in remotely located mobile Covid-19 quarantine and isolation wards.
The paper proposes using NFC tags to allow frontline healthcare workers in remote wards to access an individual patient’s medical records held on a cloud-based server by scanning the NFC tag assigned to that patient with their NFC-enabled mobile device.
They can then add medical data, including narrative text, scanned reports, images and videos, to that patient’s medical records from their device and verify the identity of the patient every time a new record is added using face recognition technology.
“Contrary to the current scenario, where the patients are given wristbands for identification, the front-line healthcare professional need not come in contact with the infected patient since the NFC chip can be placed near the bedside of the patient,” the researchers say.
The paper also proposes the implementation of a smart cloud-based tool that uses natural language processing (NLP) and optical character recognition (OCR) to enable healthcare professionals in specialist hospitals to diagnose patients with Covid-19 symptoms and monitor quarantine and isolation wards remotely.
The researchers have developed the system for use in India, where mobile quarantine wards and isolation units have been established in remote areas using non-medical locations such as railway carriages.
“Healthcare workers visit these mobile quarantine wards periodically to monitor the condition of the infected patients, to get a second opinion in critical situations, and to update senior physicians and officials present in the main specialty hospitals,” the research team explains.
“The major challenge that acts as a hindrance to this concept is the difficulty in proper maintenance and monitoring of the patient’s health records during the quarantine period.
“Although the mobile quarantine wards might be helpful to isolate the people from the rest of the public, it still does not eliminate contact between the patient and the frontline healthcare professionals.”
“Similarly, the data obtained from patients are usually comprehensive and narrative. This makes it difficult to interpret and visualise the various parameters of a patient for comparison and faster treatment.”
The system described in the paper “aims to act as an open-ended framework to which several modules can be incorporated in the future,” the researchers add.
“One such module would be the addition of sensors such as vital monitoring sensors, which can be added by adjusting and adding the necessary software and hardware architectures.
“In addition, the proposed system can be extended to several other parameters depending on the need and the field of study and examination.”