Doctors are looking to nip heart failure in the butt.
Engineers at the Rochester Institute of Technology have invented a groundbreaking toilet seat that can monitor cardio activity — and predict congestive heart failure.
Because heart-failure patients are notoriously bad at monitoring their health once they leave the hospital (45 percent of heart-failure patients will be readmitted within 90 days), the research team at RIT wanted to create a monitoring system based in something that people can’t avoid.
“The real benefit of this platform is that it integrates into your daily life with zero change in behavior required,” says Nicholas Conn, RIT engineer and CEO of Heart Health Intelligence, in a video demo.
The smart toilet seat reads heart health in three ways: an electrocardiogram, a photoplethysmogram and a ballistocardiogram, which record, respectively, a patient’s electrical activity in the heart, their heart rate and the volume of blood flowing through their heart.
It only takes about 90 seconds of skin contact for the seat to get a reading. And because people go potty multiple times a day, dumps of data can be reported back to doctors.
Algorithms will then analyze the metrics (special work was done to make sure the toilet seat can differentiate between sitting and straining to take care of business), and if a patient’s heart health begins to decline over time, doctors will be notified.
Right now, the seat is awaiting FDA approval. It will most likely be available on the medical market in 2021 or 2022. Engineers say they’re hoping the seat will cost only $100 a month, compared to the $40,000 cost of a heart-monitor implant.
“Really, we’re focused on reducing the cost of care and improving the quality of life of patients,” Conn tells the Daily Beast.