USC to develop iPhone App for tracking heartbeat

Researchers at USC are collaborating with medical devices manufacturer St. Jude Michael to develop a new mobile app that will track pressure inside the human heart through an implanted sensor. A prototype for the same device was unveiled at the Body Computing Conference held in Los Angeles on Sept. 26.

The app, called Pam+ (“Patient Advisory Module”), could help heart patients adjust medication to maintain a healthy blood pressure, similar to the manner in which diabetics use insulin and blood sugar readings. Patients might then be able to better manage their health and reduce hospitalization.

The app works in conjunction with an external device — developed by St. Jude and currently in clinical tests — placed over the heart to charge the implanted sensor and obtain data from it. This data is then sent to a server at St. Jude that analyzes it and returns, via the app, the latest readings and information about ongoing trends. Patients can share this data with their doctors and family members.

The app will display the message “Your heart thanks you” to patients who regularly monitor their heart pressure over the course of a week. Users also accrue points for using the application that might eventually be connected to iTunes store or Amazon credit for redemption.

“We want patients to be able to access data but also to be rewarded and encouraged on a daily basis, so they don’t feel like their whole life is a diet,” said Leslie Saxon, a cardiologist and director of the Center for Body Computing at USC, in an interview with MIT Technology Review.