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Connected health devices that help at-risk populations, like senior citizens and the chronically ill, make good sense. They help keep people healthy, and they ultimately save the system money.

A San Jose, Calif.-based company called Vital Connect announced today that it received FDA clearance for use of its HealthPatch MD biosensor for monitoring patients at home.

HealthPatch MD can be used for short-term monitoring of a patient who has just been released from the hospital, or as part of the follow-up care provided after a non-critical emergency room visit. The point is to allow the patient’s caregivers to keep tabs on them from afar 24 hours a day.

The biosensor is a small white plastic device that attaches to the patient’s skin. It has two components — a reusable sensor module and a disposable patch. It monitors heart rate, heart rate variability, skin temperature, body posture, fall detection, steps, and many other things.

The sensor uses Bluetooth 4.0 to connect to a relay or smartphone, and the relay transfers information by Wi-Fi to the cloud and then to caregivers. The data is encrypted to meet HIPPA privacy and security guidelines.

Caregivers can get notifications if there are sudden changes in key metrics or if any vitals metric goes out of the healthy range.

The CDC says more than 1.5 million people in the U.S. get home health services each year, with an average duration of 315 days. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services project that home health care costs for 2014 will reach $86.8 billion.


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