We are rapidly approaching the end of the second phase of the Nightingale project.
Four companies have worked very hard to develop and present us with a prototype version of their multiparameter wearable wireless sensor. We recently started testing the accuracy and usability of these designs in healthy volunteers (with prior hospital experience). During a 90 min test session in the hospital we compare the performance of each sensor with a hospital-grade ICU monitor, both at rest and during various forms of light exercise, including breathing at different respiratory rates to a metronome. We also check if the wireless connection is robust when the volunteer uses a cell phone to make a call. To test the all-important usability aspects, the volunteers also wear each sensor for 5 days during their regular daily life (and sleep). During that period we check the quality of data transmission and ask the volunteers for feedback regarding the usability of the system (sensor and gateway device + software).
It is already obvious that patients highly value simplicity and crystal clear guidance. Of note, all Nightingale sensors are reusable and each uses a different way to recharge or change the battery. All sensors have an extended feature set beyond heart rate and respiratory rate, although not all features are fully calibrated at this time; especially continuous noninvasive blood pressure and pulse oximetry, which will require additional dedicated tests to check accuracy over a wider range of abnormal values.
We are excited to have arrived at this stage of the Nightingale project and are grateful for the opportunity to help stimulate innovation through the EU Horizon 2020 Precommercial Procurement program. Thus far, our expectations have been met - and at times even exceeded by the designs, both in terms of features as well as system architecture. In the autumn we will enter the final phase of the Nightingale project: we will install and evaluate the two winning systems on selected wards in our hospitals in Utrecht, London, Stockholm, Leuven and Aachen. As we now expect to receive critical feedback from patients, nurses and doctors in real clinical settings, this should be the proof of the pudding.