Patient monitors collect and record data on the vital signs of patients. This includes heart-rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and respiration. However, making sure that such devices are functioning correctly means careful testing and maintenance. Hooking monitors up to patients or volunteers for the purposes of finding faults in the equipment is not always practical or reliable. For the biomedical engineers and technicians responsible for the development and maintenance of such equipment, a patient simulator that can be plugged directly into patient monitors and that can emulate vital signs is an important tool. Rigel Medical, part of Seaward Group, has unveiled its PatSim200 patient simulator at the MEDICA trade fair in Dusseldorf. The PatSim200 features an intuitive interface and is compatible with most patient monitoring equipment, which can be plugged directly into the unit.
Medgadget asked Andrew Upton, managing director of Seaward Group, some questions about the PatSim200.
Conn Hastings, Medgadget: Rigel Medical offers a variety of products to help test medical equipment. Does such equipment typically need testing only during development and manufacturing, or is regular testing necessary throughout the life of many devices?
Andrew Upton, Seaward Group: Obviously it’s important to make sure medical equipment is accurate when it first arrives on the hospital floor, but yes ongoing testing is key too. Every healthcare facility I know of does regular testing of some kind – normally every one to three years, and even if this tells you that your kit is working fine, then that gives you real peace of mind. If you think about it, some equipment is now decades old: I wouldn’t want to drive a car which hadn’t been serviced for 30 years!
Medgadget: Can you give us a brief overview as to how the PatSim200 functions?
Andrew Upton: Put simply, the PatSim200 plugs into monitoring equipment and mimics the vital signs that doctors and other healthcare professionals have to monitor on a daily basis. It does this by transmitting electrical currents of various waveforms which match with each type of patient condition. We’re offering a free online product demo at www.rigelmedical.com/medica.
Medgadget: How does the unit improve on pre-existing patient simulation solutions for patient monitors?
Andrew Upton: For a start, it’s easier to use, more cost-effective, and more portable. We’ve conducted a lot of customer research and listened to feedback on what biomedical engineers need. What biomeds told us is that they can spend minutes scrolling through test options, whereas they might only use a handful of tests regularly – and all of those wasted minutes can really rack up. So we approached this device differently by not having a ‘tree style’ hierarchy, and instead introducing a ‘memory function’ for biomeds to save their top five tests. Now users can find a test in the touch of three buttons.
We also took note of our customers’ compatibility needs, so the device’s cable ports are compatible with most hospital legacy IBP and temperature cables.
Finally, because this is a really lightweight and portable unit, it’s now easy to send a biomed into a ward for a quick spot-check on any monitor. And as the unit is so cost-effective, I expect some biomed departments will want a few devices for use around the hospital.
Medgadget: Can the PatSim200 emulate the vital signs of patients with conditions such as hypertension or cardiac arrhythmias?
Andrew Upton: Yes absolutely – in fact, the device has over 40 selectable arrhythmias. The PatSim200 covers the main vital signs that engineers told us they needed to test. The device can produce a 12-lead NSR ECG simulation, as well as simulating respiration, body temperature, and IBP.
Medgadget: Do users require extensive training before using the PatSim200?
Andrew Upton: No – what we wanted to do was create a device that was just as useful for a trainee or entry-level engineer as it was for a seasoned professional. We’ve designed the interface so that relevant waveforms appear on screen, which makes it a useful training device for engineers too.
Healthcare managers and engineers have so many time and budget pressures, so we’ve produced a device which is cost-effective and simple to navigate through. The field trials which we’ve conducted in hospitals across the North East back that up.
Medgadget: Is the PatSim200 easily transportable?
Andrew Upton: Yes, it’s light and compact. Most of our customers are engineers who travel between facilities, so this came out really strongly in our customer research.
Product page: PatSim200…
Top image credit: Dave Charnley Photography www.davecharnleyphotography.com