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Journal of Healthcare Engineering
Volume 2 (2011), Issue 3, Pages 337-363
Research Article

Evolution of an Early Illness Warning System to Monitor Frail Elders in Independent Living

Gregory L. Alexander,1 Marilyn Rantz,1 Marjorie Skubic,2 Richelle J. Koopman,3 Lorraine J. Phillips,1 Rainer D. Guevara,2 and Steven J. Miller1

1Sinclair School of Nursing, University of Missouri, USA
2Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Missouri, USA
3Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Missouri, USA

Received 1 August 2010; Accepted 1 March 2011

Copyright © 2011 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper describes the evolution of an early illness warning system used by an interdisciplinary team composed of clinicians and engineers in an independent living facility. The early illness warning system consists of algorithms which analyze resident activity patterns obtained from sensors embedded in residents' apartments. The engineers designed an automated reasoning system to generate clinically relevant alerts which are sent to clinicians when significant changes occur in the sensor data, for example declining activity levels. During January 2010 through July 2010, clinicians and engineers conducted weekly iterative review cycles of the early illness warning system to discuss concerns about the functionality of the warning system, to recommend solutions for the concerns, and to evaluate the implementation of the solutions. A total of 45 concerns were reviewed during this period. Iterative reviews resulted in greater efficiencies and satisfaction for clinician users who were monitoring elder activity patterns.