When caring for patients with a critical condition, medical staff need to be able to continuously monitor their vital functions. Thanks to the MEDIWARN project, a joint collaboration between the Policlinico Vittorio Emanuele University Hospital and the University of Malta, a continuous monitoring system with an integrated intelligent warning system will allow nursing staff to monitor these functions without having to physically be at the bedside at all times.
The MEDIWARN project is one of the projects sponsored by the European Regional Development Fund, chosen through the Interreg Italia-Malta. As such, it is a collaboration between the University of Catania (through the Faculty of Engineering), the University of Malta (through the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery), and the Azienda Ospedaliero - Universitaria Policlinico "G. Rodolico - San Marco" in Catania. The project commenced in May 2018, and is now in its concluding phase.
The improved warning system includes the use of advanced fuzzy logic to predict when a patient would be about to deteriorate clinically. Hence, the MEDIWARN system would alert nurses and physicians so that they can intervene at an earlier stage, with a higher chance of success of treating a patient and prevent such potentially harmful events. Research shows that in recent years the occupancy rate of the beds has increased, unless there is adjustment of thow the nursing staff care for each patient, it is inevitable to have a decline in the standard of care.
Physicians in Malta and Catania have developed this system together with engineers in Catania. Using clinical expertise, the system interprets clinical parameters to give a score that shows the likelihood of a harmful event. MEDIWARN has been trialled both locally and at Catania, for feasibility and practicality. Analysis of these trials is ongoing and looks to be promising. The innovative monitoring system will acquire, in real time, the vital parameters of patients through the use of a peripheral sensory system as the computer assigned to the ward, equipped with artificial intelligence, will provide a picture of the evolution of the patient's clinical status., furthermore this information will also be sent to mobile media (tablets) in the possession of medical personnel.
The research progress was presented at a press conference held on 29 September, 2021, where representatives from the University, Mater Dei and other stakeholders were present.
University Rector, Prof. Alfred J. Vella said “Through the MEDIWARN project, the health institutions will surely benefit from better management of medical and nursing staff with a direct impact on the quality of service provided to patients. I am certain that this research will improve the quality that deems necessary for the care of those hospitalised patients who need continuous monitoring and adequate care. The University of Malta will keep its doors open for opportunities , like this, to contribute to a better future in the health industry.”
Dr Stephen Sciberras, who is part of the researchers team continued by saying “MEDIWARN is an excellent opportunity for a collaboration between different entities, and different specialists. We started with a project that aimed to fill a void we felt was present in our standard care: that of trying to foresee which patients will deteriorate. We are now at the end of this project having learnt much more than what we anticipated. We are grateful for the opportunity offered to us by the University of Malta, and by Interreg Italia-Malta for funding through the European Regional Development Fund. We appreciate the support of the Project Support Office and all ancillary offices in the University, the Ministry of Education, and the European Territorial Cooperation Programmes Unit Funds and Programmes Division, who have guided us throughout these 4 years. We would also like to extend our gratitude to Mater Dei and the nursing staff of various wards who helped us collect data necessary to improve MEDIWARN.”
Hon. Dr Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, Parliamentary Secretary for European funds addressed the audience by saying “This project has been bearing fruit since its start in May 2018 and will continue to do so as it reaches its conclusion by the end of 2021. This project will be supporting the healthcare workers to monitor their patients at a distance. This is another project co-financed by European Funds where out of a total of €1.7 million, €1.5 come from European Regional Development Fund. ”
With the financial input from the European Regional Development Fund, a network of researchers, SMEs, stakeholders and public administrators have been able to expand their research on advancing the health industry to a more efficient level. For more details about the project visit the MEDIWARN website.