Life-saving alarm system reaches 1,000 patients

rapid 100th patient

21 March 2017

  • Birmingham Children Hospital’s revolutionary study using smart alarm systems designed by Aston mathematicians has recruited its 1,000th patient
  • Project aims to save the lives of children and young people through a world-leading system that monitors heart-rate, breathing rate and oxygen levels – providing early warning signs of deterioration

A world-leading study at Birmingham Children’s Hospital using smart alarm systems designed by mathematicians from Aston University has reached a key milestone recruiting its 1,000th patient.

Five-month-old Rayan-Ali Adris from Smethwick, who is being treated by the hospital’s expert cardiac team for aortic stenosis – a condition that narrows the heart’s aortic valve, is the 1,000th patient to take part in the RAPID study.

The pioneering RAPID (Real-Time Adaptive and Predictive Indicator of Deterioration) project, which kicked off in 2014, aims to save the lives of children and young people through a revolutionary wireless monitoring platform.

The sensors continuously collect data from patients on cardiac wards, such as heart rate, breathing rate and oxygen levels, to provide vital early warning signs of deterioration.

The project, jointly funded by a £1.8 million grant from the Wellcome Trust and Department of Health, through the Health Innovation Challenge Fund, uses hi-tech wireless sensors, designed by Isansys Lifecare, which are attached to the chest and ankle to measure vital signs processed in real-time using a platform inspired from the world of Formula 1.

Ground-breaking in its aim, the technology uses smart alarm systems, designed by mathematicians at Aston University, which will activate when the baseline levels of individual patients deteriorate alerting nurses and doctors allowing a swift response.

This means that signs normally recorded every one to four hours on paper charts could potentially become a thing of the past with continuous individual monitoring that gives more accurate information helping lead to faster treatment – saving lives and reducing hospital stays.

Mum, Neelam Bi, said: “I’m so pleased that Rayan-Ali was able to take part in the study. I think the wireless technology is great, I can pick him up more easily and he is constantly monitored.”

The University of Birmingham is also a RAPID partner with a team providing biostatistical support and Health Economics analysis.

Dr Heather Duncan, Birmingham Children’s Hospital intensive care consultant and RAPID study lead, said: “Recruiting the 1,000th patient is a really important milestone. We’d like to thank all of our children and families who have helped us since the launch, including Rayan-Ali. Their help is so important to the success of the project.” 

“Work is continuing to progress well as we enter the final phase of this three-year study that’s aiming to revolutionise the way we monitor patients to save lives in the future.”

Keith Errey, CEO of Oxford-based Isansys, said: “We are delighted that our Lifetouch "smart patches” and wireless patient monitoring platform have now been used to monitor more than 1,000 patients at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. We believe this is the first time that next generation wireless technology has been deployed to monitor children of all ages in hospital and in real-time. Our Patient Status Engine technology is not just enabling freedom from leads and cables, but is also providing continuous vital sign data for the development of new and powerful methods that will allow clinicians, nurses and families themselves, to provide even better care for these young and often vulnerable patients.”

Prof David Lowe, Professor of Applied Mathematics at Aston University and RAPID Analytical lead, said: "Devising robust and reliable predictive algorithms individualised for each sick child is one of the most difficult and yet one of the most rewarding problem areas for a mathematician to work in. Even starting from an advanced set of algorithms originally designed for defence purposes, we have had to invent a range of new approaches to give us one of the best systems in the world for personalised prediction of deterioration. This would not have been possible without the contribution of our one thousand children."

RAPID follows two smaller studies, which proved the technology’s potential. Young Lives, an initial study of 3,000 children in intensive care at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, funded by the Health Foundation Shine programme, showed that cardiac arrests could be predicted using advanced analysis of their vital sign data.

A second study of 40 patients showed that the data could be captured using wireless sensors, allowing children to move around wards without getting wires tangled and pulled off.


Notes to the editor

About Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust

Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust (BWC) brings together the very best in paediatric and women’s care in the region and is proud to have many UK and world-leading surgeons, doctors, nurses, midwives and other allied healthcare professionals on our team.

Birmingham Women’s Hospital is a centre of excellence, providing a range of specialist health care services to over 50,000 women and their families every year from Birmingham, the West Midlands and beyond. As well as delivering over 8,200 babies a year, it offers a full range of gynaecological, maternity and neonatal care, as well as a comprehensive genetics service, which serves men and women. Its fertility centre is one of the best in the country, while the fetal medicine centre receives regional and national referrals. The hospital is also an international centre for education, research and development with a research budget of over £3 million per year. In April 2016, it was announced as the national miscarriage research centre – the first of its kind in the UK - in partnership with Tommy’s baby charity.

Birmingham Children’s Hospital is the UK’s leading specialist paediatric centre, caring for sick children and young people between 0 and 16 years of age. Based in the heart of Birmingham city centre, the hospital is a world leader in some of the most advanced treatments, complex surgical procedures and cutting edge research and development. The hospital is a nationally designated specialist centre for epilepsy surgery and also boasts a paediatric major trauma centre for the West Midlands, a national liver and small bowel transplant centre and a centre of excellence for complex heart conditions, the treatment of burns, cancer and liver and kidney disease.

The hospital is also home to one of the largest Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in the country, comprising of a dedicated inpatient Eating Disorder Unit and Acute Assessment Unit for regional referrals of children and young people with the most serious of problems (Tier 4) and the new Forward Thinking Birmingham community mental health service for 0 to 25 year olds.

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston University has been always been a force for change. For more than 50 years the University has been transforming lives through pioneering research, innovative teaching and graduate employability success. Aston is renowned for its opportunity enabler through broad access and inspiring academics, providing education that is applied and has real impact on all areas of society, business and industry. True to Aston’s Coat of Arms which bears the word ‘Forward’, in 2016 Aston recently held a year-long anniversary celebration to recognise its heritage and achievements, but with a focus to drive forward the next stage in the University’s exciting journey.

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