A DESPERATE need for better patient monitoring during COVID spurred an Armidale business to develop a remote patient monitoring service that has just won a national award.
Rod and Deborah Martin are founders of digital health company Observa Care.
The Martins won $35,000 after being named overall champion of the Innovate with NBN grants program awards at a special dinner on Friday, November 24.
Observa Care also won the health category in the annual program.
"We're delighted with the win and are going to use the prizemoney to test how the model works in more remote settings," Ms Martin said.
Since COVID, the Martins have been refining their remote patient monitoring service, which delivers real-time information about patients' vital signs wirelessly to clinicians via cloud servers.
The Martins established themselves in Armidale 17 years ago; Dr Martin is at Rusden Street Medical Practice and a senior lecturer at UNE.
During COVID lockdowns, the Martins became concerned the hospital might be over-run with patients.
So they set about developing a clinical service model which exploits existing wearable sensor technology (such as an Apple watch) to measure a patient's vital signs and overall health status.
Information such as heart and respiratory rates, as well as temperature, is then stored remotely and sent to a dashboard on a clinician's desktop.
"A patient can be anywhere with good mobile coverage and the clinicians can be located somewhere else, but still receive that information at a distance," Ms Martin said.
"We're still perfecting and testing Observa Care to see what works, what doesn't and what patients like.
"We want to show that as a model, Observa Care can work anywhere is rural Australia."
The Innovate with NBN grants program is run in partnership with the Regional Australia Institute and aims to lift digital capability across Australia.
Grant winners were those decided to be harnessing the benefits of the NBN network to develop products or solutions that improve digital participation, productivity, or social outcomes for regional and remote Australians.
Recipients submitted entries into seven categories including health, agriculture, tourism, arts and education.