Innovative research for wearable medical devices underway at new Fairview Community Health and Wellness Hub

Innovative research underway at new Fairview Community Health and Wellness Hub

Innovative research underway at new Fairview Community Health and Wellness Hub

Innovation is underway at the new Fairview Community Health and Wellness Hub in downtown St. Paul. The Fairview Frontiers team is conducting testing of wearable devices for major brands, including Garmin.

“When you are out shopping and you see devices that you can buy at any store here locally, that can help measure your heart rate, or oxygen, or your sleep, those are the new technologies that are being built into consumer devices that help track your healthcare — that’s what we’re testing here,” said Andrew Snyder, the director of the clinical trials office.

Smartwatches are just one example.

Snyder said about 1,000 patients have participated in different trials over the last year at the Hub.

“We’ve doubled our size, we’ve doubled our space,” he said. “We now have the largest testing for wearable devices in the country.”

Perricia Burgess is one of those participants. She wore a watch and monitor for two weeks, keeping a log, for a trial focusing on COPD patients.

“It was painless, it was fun,” she said.

She signed up immediately when M Health Fairview reached out.

“It was exciting and it was like, I’ve been waiting for this,” said Burgess.

The 79-year-old has a long history with medical research. She participated in a study of Turner Syndrome, a chromosomal disorder, at a Kansas hospital when she was a teenager.  Later, in her 60’s she took part in another study of Turner Syndrome by the National Institutes of Health.

“To be honest, when I first had research done, I was thinking like a lot of other people where ‘I don’t trust it, I don’t know what they’re going to do with the information they get,’” she said. “I got a chance to see that it benefits so many people. It helps people and that’s what I’m all about, I want to help people of all kinds.”

M Health Fairview has focused on reaching out to those who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color as they’ve enrolled patients in studies by working with the Center for Community Health Equity, which is also based at the Hub. The system increased enrollment in those communities from 15% to 34% over the last year.

“It’s really important to have people from all different skin types to make sure these devices will work for everyone,” said Snyder. “We know that medications and other healthcare technologies really work differently in different types of people.”

Snyder described the studies as low risk and the technology as recognizable, which he said is helping bridge the gap with ongoing studies.

“We can really envision a time when you come into the emergency room and you’re released with a watch that they give you that tracks everything that’s going on with you and communicates that back to your provider to help keep you healthy,” he said.

Burgess told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS she’s been sharing her experience with others in her community.

“When we go forward, we’re helping other people,” she said. “It’s very rewarding to know it’s not just for yourself but it will go for generations to come, it could help your children, your grandchildren.”