Schenectady, Ellis Medicine announce program to monitor cancer patients’ body temps remotely

Samara Barend, CEO of AION Biosystems, announces the company's partnership with Schenectady and Ellis Medicine on the Stay Well program during an event at Ellis Hospital on Aug. 3.

Samara Barend, CEO of AION Biosystems, announces the company's partnership with Schenectady and Ellis Medicine on the Stay Well program during an event at Ellis Hospital on Aug. 3.

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SCHENECTADY — A group of Ellis Medicine oncology patients are set to participate in a new partnership between the hospital, city and a private tech company that will allow the patients to continuously monitor their temperatures to help ward off potential infections.

The Stay Well program, which started Monday, has seen Schenectady team with Ellis and AION Biosystem to deploy the company’s iTempShield technology on oncology patients in the city.

Patients will be outfitted with a wearable monitoring device that will provide remote patient monitoring to the cancer patients’ physicians.

Samara Barend, CEO of AION Biosystems, said a minimum of 250 Ellis patients would be participating in the initial rollout of the program.

“In many oncology patients, infection detection is the key,” she said after a press conference for the Stay Well program on Thursday at Ellis Hospital. “Being able to stay ahead of it, because a low-grade fever even around 100 can be dangerous for these patients. Many of them don’t even realize they have an infection or that they’re on the verge of an infection. So being able to track it early and continuously is critical.”

The Stay Well initiative is a component of the city’s Smart City project, which was funded with $2.6 million in federal Community Development Block Grants.

Paul Milton, President & CEO of Ellis Medicine, said that the public-private partnership represented in the Stay Well initiative is new to Ellis Medicine.

“This is innovative,” he said.

Milton noted that the iTempShield devices will begin with immunocompromised oncology patients with future expansion possible.

“We wanted to start somewhere where it made a lot of sense and when you’re a cancer patient you’re immunocompromised and if your temperature starts to go up, the technology jumps on it,” Milton said.

Milton credited Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy with suggesting the partnership between the city, hospital and AION Biosystems to take part in the city’s Smart City initiative.

The city has also deployed Smart City Funding to roll out free, public Wi-Fi to cover over 40% of the city.

McCarthy said the Stay Well program could have major health benefits for the residents participating in it.

“With some of these devices, it might mean leaving the patient in place but continuing to monitor them should anything change and you can send the paramedics or an ambulance back to move them to the emergency room,” McCarthy said after Thursday’s event.

Milton said the cost of the new tech, which utilizes artificial intelligence, should be covered by each patients’ health insurance plan, with the cost not being charged to the hospital or the city.

State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, noted that the program could reduce hospital readmissions, providing cost savings for both patients and healthcare providers.

“Mayor McCarthy’s commendable dedication to the Smart City deployment in Schenectady is evident through transformative initiatives,” Santabarbara declared in a statement. “The city’s significant strides towards a healthier and more connected community include the launch of the Stay Well program at Ellis Medicine in collaboration with AION Biosystems.”

Barend said that time is of the essence when detecting body temperature increases in patients with compromised immune systems. The patients will wear the monitoring devices for 60 days and then be given a new device if needed.

“Every hour delay for some of these patients is deadly,” Barend said on Thursday. “For a sepsis patient, it could mean the difference between an antibiotic and a visit to the ICU.”

Contact Ted Remsnyder at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @TedRemsnyder.

Categories: News, Schenectady, Schenectady County

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