Science and Technology

e-CoVig: App and wearable device are ready to monitor COVID-19 patients

The app measures and records the symptoms of people infected with the new coronavirus, and generates automatic alerts for healthcare professionals if the problem gets worse.

At a time when a concerted effort is required to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, e-CoVig will be an essential aid. The app was developed in the middle of this pandemic by a multidisciplinary team composed of students, professors and professionals. This low-cost technology solution aims to implement a low-cost solution for monitoring a large number of subjects in COVID-19 quarantine. The download is free, but for now the app can only be used by registered patients.

Each patient is assigned a unique QR code that can be used in both app and e-CoVig website. Almost all the clinical data needed to monitor the health status are collected through the various features of our smartphone, namely breathing, pulse, oxygen saturation level, etc. “The focus of e-CoVig was using smartphones as ‘the’ effective sensor” says Hugo Silva, Técnico professor and researcher at Instituto de Telecomunicações (IT), and one of the project leaders. “However, some variables such as temperature and pulse oximetry can’t be measured by smartphones”, he adds.

For this reason, the e-CoVig team developed a wearable device that allows to measure temperature, pulse oximetry and heart rate, which is compatible with the app. “This device is aimed at patients who need a more periodic physiological parameters measurement”, explains João Sanches, Técnico professor and researcher at the Institute for Systems and Robotics (ISR), and project leader.

The information collected by the application, which includes a diary identifying the symptomatological changes, is then sent to the BrainAnswer platform – coordinated by professor João Valente, Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco – for the cloud storage and analytics backend, as well as for the web-based patient management portal that healthcare professionals can access, depending on their level of responsibility.

The BrainAnswer platform allows healthcare professionals to review the status of the population that they are following, receive alerts for patients in which abnormal parameters are detected or whenever measurements are required. The platform also integrates algorithms for analytics and risks assessment of the monitored objects, following the guidelines set forth by the Trace COVID-19 task force.

One of the biggest challenges of this project was to find the right balance between functionality and usability. “We tried to develop a“ human-friendly ”system that can be used by people with different levels of digital literacy”, said professor João Sanches.

This project results from hard work and dedication of an interdisciplinary team “that involved engineers, healthcare professionals, designers and other experts”, highlights professor Hugo Silva. At the moment, the validation of laboratory tests is being performed together with professor Telmo Pereira (School of Health Technology of Coimbra), “with very positive results so far”.

The next step will be the implementation in real context, as a support tool for patient monitoring, together with the TraceCOVID platform. “We want that people with other pathologies can also use this app”, says professor Hugo Silva.