Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Health + Tech | Save our cops - Use remote tracking of the health of members of the security forces

Published:Sunday | May 21, 2017 | 5:00 AMDoug Halsall

When I heard about the sudden death of Acting Commissioner of Police Winchroy Budhoo, I immediately thought of all the good members of the security forces who continue to make tremendous sacrifice to protect and serve us.

The following week there was a report that a correctional officer allegedly shot and stabbed his wife during a domestic dispute.

Let's be real, to be part of the law-enforcement team in this country means a tremendous amount of stress.

The mental health, as we have seen through several unfortunate incidents, can be fragile, which also translates to the fragility of the physical health and well-being. As many studies have indicated, high stress levels tend to exacerbate as well as bring on other physical ailments. Stress, like any other disorder, can be treated so that persons live a healthier and improved quality of life.

The incidents I mentioned above got me thinking about how we can use technology to monitor the health of our most at-risk workers - police officers, members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), correctional officers - which would allow us to get the necessary interventions in place quickly.

The technology that is available to us today can track several illnesses and alert a caregiver and user to any risk to health and well-being. If the doctors or nurses who care for these workers used remote care devices, they would be able to monitor each officer and get alerts when certain health metrics are above or below acceptable levels.

The JDF's system makes it easier than most to do this. The JDF has its own medical facilities and doctors who work with its members. These doctors already have health information on each member in a central area which, when digitised, will allow for easy analysis.

An electronic system not too different from the one being put in place at the University Hospital of the West Indies, albeit on a smaller scale, will give them information on the health status of all JDF members, at their fingertips. Now, this is just a part of the equation. The rest will have to be filled in with the use of a remote care management unit.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force and correctional officers' set-up may not be as integrated and holistic as the JDF's but they can still be able to monitor the health of their members to quickly recommend interventions and support.

 

HOW THE DEVICE WORKS

 

The remote care management unit/devices could be set up at each police station, office and headquarters and prison or wherever the correctional officers meet. An app would be available to each person, for checking his or her health metrics as a matter of routine, with the desired frequency, and transmitted electronically to the central database, where it is then analysed using artificial intelligence.

The caregivers - doctors or nurses - are then automatically alerted if there is any reading above or below normal results. Text message alerts to the patient's and doctor/caregiver's phone can be sent if something is suspected to be amiss.

As a reminder, here are some of the health readings that the remote care management unit can provide:

- Electrocardiogram

- Heart rate

- Heart rate variability

- Oral temperature

- Blood oxygen saturation

- Systolic and diastolic blood pressure

- Mean arterial pressure

- Arterial stiffness index

- Atrial fibrillation

- Atrial tachycardia

- Atrioventricular

- Premature ventricular contraction

- Premature atrial contraction

- Galvanic skin response

- Weight, body mass index

- Basal metabolic rate

- Body fat

- Visceral fat

- Bone density

- Muscle mass and body water.

The technology also offers diagnosis management of issues including:

- Diabetes

- Coronary artery disease

- Congestive heart failure

- Chronic obstructive

- Pulmonary disease

- Hypertension

- Depression/schizophrenia

- Dementia

- Activities of daily living

- Smoking cessation and

- Substance abuse

All of these readings will also automatically update each patient's electronic health records. This technology is indeed revolutionary and can make a major difference in the lives of our security forces, even with limited resources.

- Doug Halsall is chairman and CEO, Advanced Integrated Systems.

Feedback: Doug.halsall@gmail.com or editorial@gleanerjm.com