Foot monitor offers diabetes patients remote support to address COVID-19 challenges

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podium
Doctor giving a patient foot treatment

A specialist device that can remotely monitor the foot health of diabetes patients features in a new collaboration between the University of South Wales (USW) and healthcare systems company Thermetrix.

The Podium device examines the sole of the foot temperature profiles of patients with diabetes so healthcare professionals can check for signs of foot ulcers.

While the device can be used in traditional healthcare settings, it can also be operated in a patient’s own home—with data transferred remotely through an internet connection to those looking after their treatment.

Regular scanning of feet for signs of developing foot ulcers may trigger early intervention, which can avoid the need for later surgery, possible amputation, and potentially early death. The potential of remote monitoring capability to play a major role in wound management post-surgery is also being assessed.

With the device being portable and easy to operate in a patient’s home, it can remove the need for patients to travel to health appointments, saving time and money for both them and healthcare providers, a Thermetrix press release states.

With current health setting restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it can also help to ensure that any changes in a patient’s condition can be monitored remotely, and support given, as necessary.

Paul Harrison, USW’s pro vice-chancellor Innovation and Engagement, says: “USW has a long history of applied research and innovation, and this project is supported through our Knowledge Exchange and Innovation programme, which aims are to meet industry needs and encouraging partnership and collaborative growth.

“The programme has a current focus on projects addressing and mitigating the health, social, economic, cultural, and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, and this project fits in perfectly with that aim.”

Peter Plassmann, co-CEO of Thermetrix, comments: “We are delighted to be working with our academic partners as we seek to understand the various ways in which this simple, portable, and easy-to-use device can help healthcare professionals assess foot temperature.

“There is enormous worry in podiatry that the absence of normal patient screening could lead to a surge in unnecessary surgery and early deaths.

“This device can help to ensure that patients are monitored, and any clinical intervention can be organised at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Tony Davies, USW professor in charge of the project with Thermetrix, adds: “USW is proud to be able to extend this support to Thermetrix. We have facilities and expertise which we can exploit during the pandemic to support Thermetrix’s goals of delivering better patient care both through their network of professional podiatrists and directly in the home of their patients.”

Thermetrix was launched in April 2018 to develop devices that address the needs of diabetes patients. The company was founded after a successful £1.2m ‘Investment for Innovation’ (i4i) project funded by National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under the project leadership of the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL), which included two clinical trials in three UK Hospitals under the clinical lead of King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London.

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