Recent advancements in technology can enable remote diagnosing of patients. This is the field of telemedicine. The challenge in the modern day world is to employ remote sensing techniques to implement remote diagnosis.
Designing such semi-automatic diagnostic system requires several parameters to be considered. For example, designing the system for a space ship will require some basic assumptions. The assumptions are that physical injuries can be attended to by other crew members but internal ailments that cannot be successfully diagnosed by other crew members will make use of the remote diagnostic techniques. This paper will present a possible design of an interactive interface that operates such a system.
Sensory devices have been employed in several fields and medicine is one such fields where these devices have been employed. If the sensors can be remotely operated, then it is possible to use them for diagnosis of a patient not within reach.
The aim is to design a interactive interface for system that can be controlled remotely to be used for diagnosing illnesses on patients in a space ship. The system will be operated from the ground.
Remote diagnostic techniques have been employed in the past but not to a highly interactive scale. For instance, Infinium advanced medical technologies (1) offer devices that can be used by patients to diagnose illnesses at home. Each device has its own interface where data collected from the patient by the sensors can be displayed and in some cases processes/translated into meaningful information for patients. For example, the company manufactures pulse oximeters with displays, anesthesia machines with data processing capabilities and even pressure sensors that can display pressure and save information in a computer. Such information may then be sent to a qualified medical practitioner as email, by calling etc. (Life technologies corporation 1).
This modes data transfer may not be intuitive for a space ship. It is important for the doctor to receive raw information as it is first hand so as to make a correct diagnosis.
The design of the multimodal interface for intuitive interaction with diagnostic equipment will assume several factors. The basic assumptions are described below.
- The first assumption is that the usual diagnostic devices will be used for diagnosing the patient. It is expected that one of the crew members can be directed by the physician on earth to place the devices on the patient at the desired points. These devices will be connected to a computer so that the raw data can be fed into the machine.
- Another assumption is that for procedures requiring tests such as blood test, stool test etc, will be performed by a robot system. The other crew members will place the patient and probably fasten the patient on a bed to avoid movements. To take blood sample for instance, the robot will be controlled by a computer program to determine depth of inserting syringe and the point on the body to do insertion. The robot system tests the blood for various conditions as directed by computer program that is remotely operated and results are saved. The crew can assist the patient in collecting stool and urine samples and placing them on the correct processing device. All devices have to be connected to the main computer so that data is transferred directly.
With the above assumptions stated, the design of the multimodal interface follows.
Interface design requires algorithms that enable different sensory devices to display data, possibly, at the same interface for comparison and diagnosis. To design the interface, it is important to know the variables of different sensory devices used. A list of devices and the allowed parameters for the interface are listed below.
- Temperature sensors: these sensors will be external i.e. will be placed on the skin to monitor body temperature of the patient. The allowed temperatures are 500F and 1200F on the lower end and higher end respectively (Atranik 1). If temperatures fall out of this range, the person is possibly dead already.
- Pulse sensors will display to main variables, the diastole and the systole. Direction of flow can also be collected by the sensors.
- The sensors that test blood will have different values to submit. Presence of pathogens in the blood will be among the values to be submitted. A magnified image of the blood stain can also be submitted on the interface for analysis by the doctor on earth. The robot that performs blood tests will also submit details like blood group etc. The same applies for stool and other body elements that may require testing. Necessary parameters will be submitted to the main system.
Design concept development
A sketch of the whole system is shown below.
Requirements of the interface
- Sharp screen resolution: the interface will be designed to display high quality images. This is important so that results with images are clearly seen for proper diagnosis.
- Dialogue windows: the interface will have dialogue windows that describe each result obtained from the system. The dialogue windows will also offer options of other activities such as result enhancement (Nyikal 18).
- Multiple windows on the same interface: this will be implemented so that different results can be displayed on the same interface. It is more intuitive this way so that diagnosis can be made with all results being viewed. The different windows should have different capacities for instance some of the windows could play video, others to display images, others to display text etc.
- Fast algorithms: the programs running the interface should be fast so as to quickly transmit information from the doctor on earth and crew in space and viceversa (Michael 110).
Design verification and validation
Once designed, algorithms will be tested for speed and the interface will be tested for the capacity to operate in several modes. For intuitive testing, live transmissions can be tried to test effectiveness.
Recommendations and future work
Remote diagnostic techniques are important and can ease the need for doctors to be at with the patient. Instead, doctors can diagnose the patient remotely and give treatment (Victor 10). This method eases the work of the doctor and the doctor is capable of serving several patients. It is therefore recommendable to implement the system.
For further work, the system should be improved so that processing and diagnosis is done by machines. Complex algorithms are however required for this purpose.
Infinium advanced medical technologies. Remote patient monitoring tools from Infinium medical. 2012. Web. 30-Nov-2012.
Life technologies corporation. Remote monitoring and diagnostics. 2012. Web. 30-Nov-2012.
Atranik, Inc. Regulation of body temperature. 2012. Web. 30-Nov-2012.
Nyikal, B. Remote sensing. New York: Black Pearson. 2009.
Michael, P. Diagnosing patients remotely. Oxford: Oxford UP. 2010.
Victor, M. Technology: the science of remote monitoring. London: McGraw Hill. 2008.