QF scientists are developing a platform to access data from smartwatches


A group of Qatar-based researchers has developed an eHealth platform – System for Integrated Lifestyle Health Analytics (Siha) – to collect data from wearable devices for clinical purposes. This has created new avenues for clinicians to access data for various medical purposes.
With copyright in place, it is currently available for licensing.
“Lifestyle data captured by wearable devices can be particularly useful in chronic disease management, but the challenge has been that clinicians have no way to access it,” said software engineer Ummar Abbas. senior at Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University of Qatar Foundation (QF).
According to an article on the QF website, most hospitals and clinics use electronic health record (EHR) systems to store patient histories. However, EHR-based systems have not yet integrated data from portable devices.
“This doesn’t happen anywhere in the world and the reason is that most consumer handheld devices aren’t approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. That is slowly starting to change though,” he pointed out.
“The first thing we need is a user’s consent to collect their data, and once we have that, the user is prompted to download an app to their phone and that app then retrieves the data from their device and sends them to our cloud, which is based in Qatar, where it is stored in a secure encrypted database,” Abbas said. He revealed that the process is not as easy as it looks due differences in how different portable devices collect and store data.
“Some portable devices upload the data to their cloud; others store it on the device itself,” the researcher said.
Another challenge is that each device has its own data format and collection frequency. The team’s first challenge was therefore to harmonize data formats from different brands and present a unified interface to clinicians.
In addition to data used by clinicians to design treatment plans and track lifestyle changes, it is also used to create and train AI models.
Syed Hashim, software engineer at QCRI and member of Siha’s development team, said: “What these models do is predictive analysis. For example, the team is currently working on a model that will use wearable data and data from the diabetic patient’s continuous blood glucose monitor to predict the onset of low blood sugar before it occurs. and can send smart notifications to the user to take corrective action.
The scientist said access to data from wearable devices is particularly useful for managing conditions that require a change in lifestyle, for example diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
“Access to wearable data will allow clinicians to quantitatively track lifestyle changes in their patients. It also adds a sense of accountability for the patient because they know the doctor has access to their data and can tell if the patient is adhering to the recommendations,” he stressed.
Currently, Siha only supports wearables from Apple, Google, Fitbit, Huawei and Withings. “These brands were chosen because of their extensive research to ensure the accuracy of their features and their constant efforts to further improve their accuracy,” Abbas said.
Siha is currently being tested in various local clinical trials, including one for diabetes in adults at Hamad Medical Corporation and one for asthma in children at Sidra Medicine.
According to Abbas, another advantage of wearable devices is that they record data even when the user is healthy, “essentially building a personalized physiological health model and baseline for each individual,” which in turn makes it easier to anomaly detection and detection of something unusual. , such as the onset of a disease or the worsening of a chronic condition.
“We would like our system to be integrated with regular clinical EHR systems and part of the regular hospital workflow in the country. Where a patient’s records needed to be viewed, in addition to the vital signs taken at each doctor visit, you would also see data from their handheld device,” Abbas added.

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