Helping patients and their families to cope with their ostomyBy 11Health and Technologies Ltd
Ostom-i is a Bluetooth device that monitors patients' ostomy-bags: prosthetic pouches that collect waste from your bladder, colon or ileum after a medical procedure.
5m patients worldwide cope with having a stoma: the name for the artificial opening that leads faeces out of the body from the intestine. The operation is completely life changing: you lose complete control of how your body eliminates waste, and you have to measure the volume in the pouches, so medics can monitor your bowel function.
Patient Michael Seres, who underwent a pioneering bowel transplant after multiple operations for the Crohn’s disease he was diagnosed with at age 12, developed the Ostom-i after personally experiencing the indignities of life with an ostomy: a painful adjustment. ‘After the operation I woke up, went to feel my stomach and came across my stoma bag. It took me about three weeks to actually look at my stoma and then another week to pluck up the courage to change the bag. Not only did I have to cope with bags/pouches filling without me being aware, but doctors wanted to know output volumes, timings and asked to create endless spreadsheets for them to review. Nurses were forever connecting me to overflow bags to avoid unnecessary spills.’
Shocked to discover that nobody had already come up with a more enlightened, tech-enabled way of avoiding leakages and measuring output, than the patient themselves measuring their waste in a jug, he set about creating it himself, while he recovered in hospital. He made his first prototype using parts he picked up on eBay, then discovered a small element in a Nintendo Wii handset that could accurately measure pouch fullness, by sensing the arc in the bag’s external curvature.
The alert clips onto the pouch and sweeps the bag every few seconds, sending measurements to a free app on a smartphone. This not only alerts patients when their pouch needs to be changed, but also automatically supplies data so clinicians can track output remotely, without the need for the patient to constantly measure their waste by hand.
The system sells for £49.99 and lasts three months. Seres is a passionate advocate for patient e-health: his blog about his bowel transplant, for which he was only the 11th patient, has 76,000 followers, and has inspired more to embark on the surgery.
Image courtesy of Ostom-i
Last updated: 17th of September, 2014