Continuous monitoring

Monitoring patients' signs and symptoms as closely as possible improves the quality of their care, but it's not always practical. Improving diagnostics technologies is making continuous monitoring feasible for certain groups of patients, for example people with diabetes, and patients in hospital beds.

Combining continuous monitoring and insulin delivery allows diabetics and their physicians to fine-tune the control of patients' blood sugar in response to the body's needs. Companies such as Roche and CeQur are developing devices that combine diagnostics and insulin delivery pumps, which both remove the need for multiple daily injections of insulin and mimic the normal role of the pancreas. This should reduce the risk of the long-term complications of diabetes such as kidney disease, sight loss, and heart disease.

Roche ($RHHBY) has launched its Accu-Check Combo insulin interactive pump in the U.S. This is a high-tech system combining a glucose meter and an insulin pump that communicate via Bluetooth and can be controlled remotely. It even helps patients calculate the best dose. Swiss start-up CeQur has completed a clinical trial of its PaQ insulin delivery device in insulin-dependent people with type 2 diabetes. This incorporates a disposable insulin reservoir and a reusable insulin monitor. Both deliver basal insulin doses and bolus insulin on demand.

Patients in hospital also benefit from close and constant monitoring, but sensors, leads, and cuffs restrict their movement and can get in the way of their nursing care. EarlySense, a company based in Israel and the U.S., has developed a sensor that is placed under the mattress and tracks a patient's vital signs and movements. This has so impressed investors that the company has raised $15 million in a Series E round to fund clinical research and global sales efforts.

Continuous monitoring

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