Philips to launch pneumonia Dx wearable to prevent child deaths in poorer countries

Children's Automated Respiration Monitor--Courtesy of Philips

Pneumonia is the most common killer of young children globally. Almost one million childhood deaths are attributed to the disease annually. That's why in 2011 UNICEF issued a call for product innovation to create a respiratory monitor; it then offered a more detailed target product profile for a device in 2014. Now, Royal Philips ($PHG) is almost ready to launch its Children's Automated Respiration Monitor that is designed to address those needs.

The conglomerate said it expects to launch the device during the second quarter of 2016; it is currently under review for a CE mark. Currently, poorly equipped healthcare workers must conduct their own one-minute count via a visual inspection of a child's breaths. But it can be tough to achieve an accurate count given the difficulties of detecting shallow breaths in addition to the various distractions in the healthcare environment.

"The Philips Children's Automated Respiration Monitor will be a game changer in diagnosing and treating pneumonia," Salim Sadruddin, Senior Child Health Advisor at non-governmental organization Save the Children, said in a statement. "If we can remove the subjectivity associated with health workers counting breaths, we can improve the quality of treatment and help improve patient outcomes."

The chest monitor converts movements that are detected by accelerometers into an accurate breath count using specific algorithms. Not only does it give a number of breaths, but it also offers data on and analysis of the speed of breathing. Breath speed is a key vitals diagnostic for pneumonia based on World Health Organization's guidelines.

More accurate breath monitoring is expected to enable healthcare workers to better establish which patients are most in need and to offer them interventions, such as antibiotics. But it won't, of course, enable them to distinguish the underlying pathogen causing the illness.

The Philips monitor was developed as part of collaboration between its corporate Innovation Hubs around the world including those in Nairobi, Kenya; Eindhoven, the Netherlands; and Bangalore, India.

"Philips' vision is to improve people's lives through meaningful innovation", said J.J. van Dongen, CEO of Philips Africa. "The population growth is highest in emerging markets like Africa and South East Asia, and innovation can help drive sustainable solutions that bridge the divide between the privileged and lesser privileged sections of society to improve the quality of life at all levels."

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the monitor as wrist-worn. It is, in fact, a chest strap monitor.

- here is the announcement