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Exploring the Feasibility of Wearable Health Monitoring Devices in Remote Villages

November 1, 2018 - 11:35
Exploring the Feasibility of Wearable Health Monitoring Devices in Remote Villages

Amrita’s unique experiential learning program, called Live-in-Labs®, is becoming one of the most sought-after fieldwork-based programs for international students. This program provides opportunities for visiting students to directly understand challenges in deploying technology in rural regions, thereby honing their skills to address real-world problems. It is this same opportunity that encouraged two students from the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York, to enroll in the Live-in-Labs® program at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham.

Undergraduate students from Biomedical Sciences, Aye Bay Na Sa and Arsalan Haghdel, joined the healthcare team at the Amrita Center for Wireless Networks and Applications (AmritaWNA) as part of Live-in-Labs®. Their project had two components: one was to quantitatively understand the healthcare needs of the villagers, and secondly, to analyze the acceptability of wearable non-invasive Internet of Things (IoT) devices among villagers.

AmritaWNA has been developing non-invasive physiological sensors to remotely monitor patients in villages. The research done by these two students has contributed better insights into the acceptability of these devices among villagers.

The students explained, “The purpose of this project was to study the feasibility of using a health monitoring device in a remote setting. We conducted our study in multiple settings…and sought feedback from various health professionals. This allowed us to understand how our devices can meet the healthcare needs of remote rural populations.”

Aye Bay was very curious to find answers to her questions. “What really perplexed me is that though some villagers are malnourished and underweight, why do they have diabetes and what are the other indicators of heart disease?”

The students had an opportunity to spend a few days in a remote tribal village in the district of Wayanad in the Southern state of Kerala, where they were able to directly test the health monitoring devices and speak to the villagers. Through the course of their fieldwork, students discovered that wearable health monitoring devices can improve health outcomes in areas with reduced access to health care if appropriate educational and outreach efforts were made by community-trusted individuals or organizations.

Reflecting on his experience, Arsalan said, “This was the highlight of my undergraduate education. I was able to use the knowledge and skills I learned in the classroom in real life health care problems. I enjoyed working with a multidisciplinary team at Amrita and felt very comfortable having the support of multiple faculty members and the office of international programs.”

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