Project Lifelink is one of the two projects in the National Telehealth Service Program (NTSP). The major component of this project is the development of the RxBox- a Linux-base telemedicine appliance that collects biomedical signals from the patient and transmits data through both fixed or mobile Internet network to a remote healthcare provider. The first year of the project focused on the user interface design and the interface with the Triage, a case management system which is a part of Project ECCS of the NTSP. We established communication protocols for the RxBox and wrote the control software for data acquisition for the medical devices. A multi-disciplinary design team including medical ergonomics, human factors, instrumentation physics and engineering, and software developers was involved in the design process. The first proof-of-concept- was built using an Asus EEE PC as a host computer for the appliance in which the Biopac biomedical modules were interfaced.
On its second year, the team focused on the appliance packaging, usability test, optimization of the software, and integration with the Triage server. To improve the development efficiency of RxBox, Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture was used to decouple the graphical user interface (GUI) modules from faster usability assessment and for training of medical personnel.
A MySQL 5.1 database was developed to collect patient information and medical signals from consultation sessions before they are sent to Triage. VoIP and instant messaging capability was integrated to the RxBox for real-time consultation.
Blood pressure measurements were benchmarked with an analog blood pressure (BP) instrument. Calibration software was included so that the RxBox's readings are comparable to the analog BP instrument. The ECG was also benchmarked with ECG devices used in hospitals. The codes for data acquisition, filtering the real-time plotting of ECG were refactored so that the readings will be comparable to commercial ECG units.
An industrial design team worked with us to come up with packaging of RxBox using industrial-grade plastic., Four prototype units were assembled and underwent performance and usability tests. the field tests were conducted by National Telehealth Center (NThC) team with health students and professionals in the chosen pilot sites. the four pilot sites are in (1) Baler, Aurora, (2) Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, (3) Kiamba, Sarangani, and (4) Quezon, Quezon. The researchers were able to test the performance of the biomedical devices, the communication with the Triage and VOIP capability of the device. Comments from end users were gathered using questionnaires and by conducting focus group discussions.
Meetings and demonstrations with potential manufacturers and private sector partners were also conducted. The information gathered from the performance and usability tests as well as initial meetings with manufacturers will be useful for the next stages which include redesign for manufacturability and mass production.