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Press release

30.03.2021

Remote patient management for severe heart failure using artificial intelligence and 5G technology

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BMWi funds 5GMedCamp research project

The progressive nature of chronic heart failure means that many patients will require long-term management. This can be achieved using a permanent circulatory support device such as a LVAD (left ventricular assist device). In 5GMedCamp project – led by Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin – researchers from Charité will work alongside with partners from the German Heart Center Berlin (DHZB), the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI) and two technology companies. The aim is to improve the follow-up care of patients with implanted LVADs through the use of the latest telemedicine and 5G mobile network technology. This strategic stand-alone project is supported by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). It will receive approximately €2.1 million in funding over three years.  

Mechanical devices to support the heart were originally designed to provide temporary circulatory support in patients awaiting heart transplant surgery. Today, more than 1,000 patients a year receive such a device as a permanent treatment solution for chronic heart failure. The nature of the underlying heart disease, potential complications arising in relation to the implanted device and other comorbidities all present major challenges in the treatment of LVAD patients. Due to a lack of suitable technologies, telemedicine-based patient management options remain limited.  

“This is despite the fact that telemedicine offers enormous possibilities with regard to the early diagnosis and treatment of potential complications such as bleeding, infections and technical problems with the implanted device. Remote patient management, which is available 24/7, is therefore of enormous clinical importance for this patient group. It does, however, require the continuous transmission and monitoring of data,” explains Consortium Lead Prof. Dr. Friedrich Köhler, Head of Charité’s Center for Cardiovascular Telemedicine. 

Approximately one in six patients in Germany have their LVAD systems implanted at the DHZB. Nationwide, this consortium partner leads the field in terms of length and scope of experience in the management of this patient group. “While we must drive the development of new artificial heart pumps, we need also continue to improve the use of existing systems in a way that safeguards the interests of our patients. Telemedicine has enormous potential in this regard, but to enable its prompt and efficient realization we will need to work together,” says Prof. Dr. Volkmar Falk, Medical Director of the DHZB.  

In addition to their ability to receive vast amounts of data at speed, 5G-based artificial intelligence (AI) systems are capable of data transfer in real time. Until now, however, relevant models had been limited to a few individual parameters. The 5GMedCamp project sets out to test the integrated use of 5G campus networks, public cellular networks, and home networks to enable the continuous remote monitoring of vital data. The partners will also develop AI-based methods to analyze LVAD streaming data. The objective is to use these technological approaches to turn clinical multidimensional, high-frequency data into AI-based models. Once this step has been completed, the new systems will be tested in clinical practice. The partners also plan to develop 5G-compatible, non-invasive measuring devices to collect electrocardiogram (ECG) and ‘mean arterial blood pressure’ data.  

Prof. Dr. Slawomir Stanczak, Head of Wireless Communications and Networks at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunication, Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI), adds: “The continuous streaming of medical data in real time will require 5G-based transmission which meets the highest standards of information security, data protection and reliability. The real-time analysis of all collected data will require the use of AI-based methods which may result in the need for on-site pre-processing. In addition to these technological challenges, it will therefore be essential to make data protection and security mechanisms an integral part of data transmission.” Thanks to the new 5G wireless standard and campus networks, this first-ever, non-stop, real-time streaming of patient data will meet the high standards of security and data protection required within the medical field.

The 5GMedCamp research project
The aim of the project is to develop and validate a 5G-based, continuous vital data transfer in combination with an AI-based clinical decision support system for the remote management of patients after implantation of a permanent left ventricular assist device (LVAD). This basic research project aims to achieve the first-ever application of a 5G campus network in the health sector for high risk patients. Based on the highly complex LVAD scenario, the project will develop the foundations of a telemedicine-based remote care approach using the monitoring of permanent vital data for other high-risk patients. The project consortium consists of the following partners: Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, German Heart Center Berlin (DHZB) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich Hertz Institute, HHI, as well as the technology companies SectorCon GmbH and SYNIOS Document & Workflow Management GmbH.

Links

Charité’s Center for Cardiovascular Telemedicine

5GMedCamp project website

German Heart Center Berlin (DHZB)

Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich Hertz Institute

Contact

Prof. Dr. Friedrich Köhler   
Head of the Center for Cardiovascular Telemedicine 
Medical Department, Division of Cardiology and Angiology
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin         
t: +49 30 450 514 184 



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