Clin Exp Emerg Med.  2020 Sep;7(3):144-149. 10.15441/ceem.19.081.

Use of ultra-low cost fitness trackers as clinical monitors in low resource emergency departments

  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA


In low resource hospitals, strained staffing ratios and lack of telemetry can put patients at risk for clinical deterioration and unexpected cardiac arrest. While traditional telemetry systems can provide real-time continuous vital signs, they are too expensive for widespread use in these settings. At the same time, developed countries such as the United States have been increasingly utilizing remote monitoring systems to shift patient care from hospital to home. While the context is dramatically different, the challenge of monitoring patients in otherwise unmonitored settings is the same. At-home monitoring solutions range from highly comprehensive and expensive systems to inexpensive fitness trackers. In the field of global health, the adoption of this technology has been somewhat limited. We believe that low cost fitness trackers present an opportunity to address the challenge of vital sign monitoring in resource-poor settings at a fraction of the cost of existing technical solutions.


Telemedicine; Monitoring, physiologic; Fitness trackers; Internet of Things; Global health
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