Wearing Hitoe: Patient Monitoring, Workforce Management, and Beyond

Blog /Wearing-Hitoe-Patient-Monitoring-Workforce-Management-Beyond

By Mayank Gandhi, Director, Information Management & Analytics, Healthcare & Life Sciences
Adam Nelson, VP, Healthcare & Life Sciences

When NTT DATA sponsored Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan on the IndyCar circuit, it was about more than putting a sticker on a high performing vehicle. It was a way to use a trusted relationship to explore bleeding-edge technology in the form of NTT-Toray Hitoe technology.

Hitoe applies an electro-conductive polymer to nanofibers, turning the resulting fabric into a collector of physiological electrical data. It can measure heart rate, respiratory rate intervals, and muscle activity in the form of electrocardiogram (ECG) and electromyogram (EMG) waveforms. Kanaan was enthusiastic when approached with the idea of wearing a Hitoe shirt during training workouts and races to see how his training regimen could be adjusted to improve performance.

“It’s been really fun to see the progression of this project from start to finish with the team and NTT DATA. The shirt is allowing me to see in great detail what is happening to my body when I’m in the car,” says Kanaan.

Essentially, Hitoe is a fabric-based sensor with enormous implications for workforce management, patient monitoring, physical therapy, and performance improvement. The technology has thus far been applied to cotton, compression and fitness-wear nylon material, and Nomex (required for IndyCar drivers).

Dr. Shingo Tsukada invented Hitoe technology. He conducts his research in his lab in Tokyo while working for NTT Basic Research Labs (BRL) as a senior distinguished researcher. In the past, as a practicing doctor, he saw a dire need for the technology.

“As a medical doctor, I saw people experiencing complications that could have been avoided if diagnosed and treated sooner. I wanted to provide doctors with the ability to monitor ECG and EMG on a consistent basis, allowing them to proactively treat conditions before they become worse,” said Dr. Tsukada when asked about his inspiration for developing Hitoe.

Regardless of who is wearing the sensor (a patient, employee, consumer, or athlete), the key to the system is capturing the right data at the right time and analyzing it along with contextual information to provide the user and/or a trained professional with information that leads to greater awareness of how the body reacts to various conditions. Here are some scenarios:

  • An alert is sent to a central nursing station or team of nurses on the floor when a sensor-wearing, bed-ridden patient at risk for a fall tries to get up on his/her own.
  • Employees such as railroad workers, construction workers, long-distance drivers, pilots, or members of a ship’s crew wear sensors to reduce the risk of on-the-job injury. Any time a muscle group is strained to the point of overexertion or fatigue sets in, an alert is sent to a clinical caretaker.
  • Physical therapists receive precise information about muscle usage as they work with patients, facilitating in-person sessions and ensuring rehabbed patients do not return to work until their injury is fully healed.
  • Physical therapists receive remote information from sensor-wearing patients as they perform exercises at home, allowing them to make necessary adjustments or even change therapies.
  • Elite athletes wear sensors monitored by coaches to improve their performance with less risk of injury.

Technologies like Hitoe have the potential to not only reinvigorate entire industry segments, but to improve our quality of life. We are working on turning lessons learned from Kanaan’s race training into strategies for strengthening certain muscle groups or helping patients with specific medical needs. All it takes is a shirt, gown, or special sleeve and trained professionals evaluating Hitoe insights to make actionable recommendations.

Soon, those insights will be able to help reduce the time it takes to get back to work, lower the cost of care, and increase patient satisfaction and care quality—all from using data in a meaningful way.

Post Date: 5/23/2016

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