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University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships
University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships

AlertWatch: Heads Up Display for Anesthesiologists


Professor and Chair of Anesthesiology Kevin Tremper has been creating innovative medical monitoring technologies for more than three decades. Like all of his inventions, Tremper’s latest technology was developed in response to a specific set of needs. As he explains, “In operating rooms and ICUs across the country, patient monitoring systems are doing a poor job of presenting data. False positives are common, leading to alarm fatigue. Our goal was to devise an intuitive, organ-system-based monitoring display that incorporates data from multiple sources of the electronic medical record.”

The result was AlertWatch, a single-display monitoring device that aggregates four data sets— physiological monitors, anesthesia records, lab results, and medical history—to produce a dynamic, easy-to-interpret graphic display of a patient’s condition. The system simultaneously provides useful calculations describing whether each system is normal, slightly abnormal, or de nitely abnormal (green, yellow, red colored icons), on a real-time basis. While the system is designed to run on standard PCs, patient data is also accessible via iPads and iPhones.

Tech_Transfer_007This project was initially developed in conjunction with graduate students in the Engineering School as a research project with the help of Tremper’s assistant of 28 years, Jenny Mace. In 2008, a department programmer, Jan Gombert, took over the software development to the point of having a well-functioning prototype. In the spring of 2012, Tremper joined forces with Justin Adams, a CEO with a focus and passion for start-ups, to launch AlertWatch LLC. The team also includes James Bagian, MD, veteran astronaut and a faculty member in both biomedical engineering and anesthesiology; Tyler Tremper, recent graduate of U-M computer engineering; and Mark Rathwell, recently recruited computer program developer. This year the enterprise relocated to the Innovation Partnerships Venture Accelerator.

The AlertWatch system is currently being piloted in 75 operating rooms throughout the U-M Health System. Early feedback is positive, and the technology is attracting a steady ow of seed funding from angel investors. CEO Justin Adams expects to be marketing the technology within a year, following FDA approval. “In the meantime, while we work on that,” he said, “we’ve also begun adapting the OR version of AlertWatch to the ICU and Emergency Room settings.”

AlertWatch is designed to provide critical care staff with a simple but powerful display for real-time patient monitoring and decision support. The system uses multiple data sets and information streams to generate audible, color-coded alerts for major organs.

[source: U-M Innovation Partnerships 2012 Impact Report]