Monitor saves infants
Medical School professor uses clinical trial to test Heart Rate Observation System
A heart rate monitoring system developed by researchers at the University Health System has been shown to reduce the mortality of preterm infants by more than 20 percent, according to a study published last month in the Journal of Pediatrics.
The monitoring system possesses unprecedented capabilities to anticipate infection and illness in premature babies and was developed by Medical School Prof. Dr. J. Randall Moorman and his team. The Heart Rate Observation System, or HeRO monitor received Food and Drug Administration approval in 2003.
The clinical trial assessed its effectiveness in saving the lives of preterm infants.
"This was a trial to test the idea that letting doctors and nurses to see the monitor would result in improved outcomes for the babies," Moorman said.
The randomized trial took place across nine different hospitals, and 3,000 preterm infants underwent monitoring. Among those infants, the HeRO monitor reduced mortality by more than 20 percent. Moorman said this percentage means that the monitor saved one infant's life for every 48 infants monitored.
"The monitoring system examines patterns and changes in heart rate, and shows characteristic changes that occur early in the course of illness," Mooorman explained. "Our algorithms detect when [those changes] happen, and they protect against the risk that the baby will get sick up to 24 hours ahead of time."
George Alms, executive vice president of sales and cooperate affairs for the Medical Predictive Science Corporation, said there were funding setbacks for the trial.
"Initially the trial received sole funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH)," Alms said. "However, government cuts of NIH funding delayed both the study and infant enrollment in the trial. MPSC agreed to co-sponsor and fund the trial in order to accelerate the study and boost enrollment to 3,000 infants to complete on time."
Ultimately, the NIH and Medical Predictive Science Corporation co-sponsored the study.
Dr. Robert J. Boyle of the neonatology unit at the University Health System explained the benefits of earlier intervention and the reality of better clinical outcomes.
"We have been able to watch the development and implementation of the HeRO system from the beginning," he said in an email. "We now have a system which provides very valuable real-time clinical data which allows us to identify infants who are potentially getting into trouble hours before they develop significant clinical symptoms. It allows earlier intervention and the published data suggests that we get better clinical outcomes when this information is available to us."
Moorman and his team have expectations for this monitoring to be used beyond the prenatal and neonatal ICUs.
"We're developing similar units for adults, and we're hoping to see this type of monitoring put to use in adult ICUs in the future," Moorman said.