Microsoft helps epilepsy patients to predict seizures

Rebecca Gibson
Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson on 19 September 2016
Microsoft helps epilepsy patients to predict seizures

Microsoft has collaborated with UK-based organisations Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the University of Kent, Shearwater Systems and Graphnet Health to help epilepsy patients to monitor their halth and predict when they will have a seizure.

As part of the MyCareCentric Epilepsy programme, epilepsy patients will wear a Microsoft Band to record data such as sleep patterns, exercise, heart rate and temperature. This information will be used alongside a log of when seizures occur and a patient’s medical records to build up an overview of the individual’s condition. Over time, Microsoft Azure Machine Learning could potentially ‘learn’ when someone is about to have a seizure and warn them before it happens.

Clinicians can access the findings, which could potentially also include video and audio recordings if a patient gives their consent, 24 hours a day online or via a smartphone app. It is hoped the system will be developed further to alert medial staff, family and friends when a patient has a seizure, and allow professionals to use the app to provide advice to the person affected.

“Wearable technologies have massive potential to transform the way healthcare is delivered,” said Christos Efstratiou, head of the University of Kent research team. “Coupled with advanced activity tracking algorithms, we are able to now monitor patients on a day-to-day basis. This will allow clinicians to better assess the effectiveness of medications, and enhance personalised care.”

MyCareCentric Epilepsy was co-funded by Innovate UK and is currently being piloted by Poole Hospital and the Dorset Epilepsy Service.

“The novel visualisation tools enable us to see critical details at a glance, releasing more time to care,” said Rupert Page, consultant neurologist and clinical lead for the Dorset Epilepsy Service. “And by using wearables, monitoring and notification technology – combined with secure communication to clinical systems – we are providing patients with an electronically-enabled safety net.”

The new programme is also expected to reduce the high costs associated with treating the UK’s estimated 600,000 epilepsy patients.

“This level of direct engagement helps clinicians monitor and understand the nature of someone’s epilepsy and seizures and respond immediately with alterations to drugs, for example,” said Page. “This has significant quality-of-life benefits for the patient, and cost benefits to the health service by reducing outpatient and emergency department visits, preventing hospital admissions and cutting medication bills.”

In future, Microsoft hopes that the technology will also be used to help people with other medical conditions.

“This pioneering project has the potential to redefine the delivery of epilepsy care,” said Suzy Foster, Microsoft’s health and life sciences director. “It is so exciting to see how the latest developments in technology are being used to improve individuals’ treatment and quality of life. We are looking forward to the next phase, where our partners use their technology and market presence

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