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Ebola Hackathon-Inspired Team to Pitch Live at Google Wearables Challenge

Team ProxiMe, winners of the StopEbola hackathon. Photo by Krina Patel.

Team Proxome includes Adrian Gropper, MD, CTO of Patient Privacy Rights; Sean Doyle, a software engineer at MGH; Jim Wright, an electrical engineer with a background in developing wearable devices for military and medical applications; Jessica Autrey, a current graduate student at Boston University’s School of Public Health; Shauna Biggs, a current graduate student at Boston University’s School of Public Health; Kerlyne Jean, a current dual-degree graduate student at Boston University’s School of Public Health pursuing a Master of Public Health and the School of Management pursuing a Master of Business Administration. Photo by Krina Patel.

Team Proxome is all about high tech solutions for low-tech environments. In Shauna Bigg’s submission to Medstro’s Wearables in Healthcare Pilot Challenge, she proposed a wearable system consisting of a low-cost bluetooth-enabled sensor and receiver that monitors the heart rate and temperature of ebola patients and notifies clinicians when readings exceed pre-set levels.

This idea earned her and her team a place at the Google Cambridge-hosted finals this Thursday, April 23, 2015.

Biggs met her teammates at the MIT Stop Ebola Hackathon in December, which was based around the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and highlighted the problems medical professionals were facing in the field. They proposed Proxome, a device designed to address the current lack of monitoring and evaluation in ebola clinics, while also allowing healthcare professionals to track patient information in a secure way.

“Since winning the hackathon, we have been working with MGH Center for Global Health, CAMTech, International Medical Corps, and Medtronic to develop our product and get it into the field,” Biggs says. “In February 2015, we entered Proxome into the Boston University Global Health and Engineering Meet-Up Competition where we won first place in the “shark tank” pitch session and third place in the poster competition.”

This week, team Proxome is aiming for win number three.

Biggs explains that the product comprises of a Bluetooth low energy beacon that will be attached to a patient chest strap. “The beacon will monitor patients’ heart rates and body temperature, two vital signs clinicians in the field have specified as important in patient monitoring,” she says. “The beacon is paired with a beeper via Bluetooth and/or wifi, and will alarm the health care worker when a patient‘s heart rate and temperature exceeds a designated level.”

According to Biggs, clinicians will also have the opportunity to manually program the settings to best meet the needs of the patient and the Ebola treatment center. There’s also a microphone attached, which will allow the clinician to voice pair the beacons and beepers with each other. The beeper and microphone will be worn under the clinician’s PPE and both the beeper and the beacons can be disinfected in Chlorine.

As for the huge needs this product fills, Biggs says that the opportunities are endless. “Due to a lack of health care workers in Ebola clinics, the implementation of a monitoring device will allow clinicians to assist patients needing immediate attention while maximizing their time. Additionally, Proxome has the ability to be replicated and used for other outbreaks in resource-poor settings and has the potential to be used in low to middle income country (LMIC) hospitals where there are no ICU facilities.”

The cost value of the product is significant, too, as Biggs estimate that the beacons will only cost between $10-20 (varying with volume purchase) and the beepers will likely cost $50. “Beacon battery life is approximately 2 years and both beacons and beepers are reusable and able to be disinfected in chlorine. The affordability of this product will make Proxome a leading competitor in patient monitoring in LMIC settings,” Biggs says.

As for this week’s competition, Biggs is ready to stack up another win. “Proxome is a device we are all very passionate about and we want to see it in the field as soon as possible,” she says. She’s also looking forward to advice and recommendations from panelists and judges, and extensive networking.

Tickets for the live event at Google Cambridge headquarters are now sold out, but you can add yourself to the wait list here.

You can also register for our first ever MedTALK Boston Networking Night, on May 13th, for similar conversation and collaboration.

Jenni Whalen

Jenni Whalen

    Jenni Whalen is the Executive Assistant of Editorial at Upworthy. She was previously MedTech Boston's Managing Editor and has an MS in Journalism from Boston University, as well as a BA in Psychology from Bucknell University. Whalen has written for Greatist, Boston magazine, AZ Central Healthy Living and the New England Journal of Medicine, among other places. She has also worked as a conference planner, ghost writer, researcher and content developer.

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