SmartDerm: Taking the Pressure off Patients With Technology


Bedsores can develop in as little as two hours whenever pressure on the skin reduces blood flow and causes tissue death. People most at risk are those with a medical condition that limits their ability to change positions, such as patients in ICU.

SmartDerm embeds wound dressings with a paper-thin grid of sensors that detects pressure at 16 different points. The sensors connect with a postage stamp-sized Bluetooth device, and a tablet displays pressure readings at each of the 16 points, colored green, yellow and red for low, medium and high pressure levels – all updated in real time.

ISU collaborated with Dr. Isabelle Chumfong and her team on a prototype that collects sensor data and updates clinicians in real-time, whenever a patient moves or is turned. The SmartDerm team has recently begun observational studies, initially using the sensor to collect pressure information from patients in the UCSF neuro-intensive care units (ICUs). Eventually, the SmartDerm group hopes their device can help prevent bedsores from forming.

We can help a nurse triage whichever patients are at highest risk of developing pressure ulcers, said Chumfong. “In the same way a pulse oximeter can serve as an early warning system to let us know if a patient’s oxygenation is poor, we want our pressure sensors to let providers know when a patient’s exposure is risky so they can intervene.


ISU’s smart product management system and lean development process allowed us to gather input from users and stakeholders to create a fully-functioning tablet prototype.

Our approach included:

  • Finding the best solution for linking Salesforce with Apex so that clinicians can view the Smartderm data from within the patient’s record in Apex.
  • Guiding the stakeholder through the AC3 governance process to link Salesforce with Apex.
  • Conducting design workshops to develop the user interface for the tablet application.


SmartDerm’s features include APeX integration, reports for providers, and a full telemetry board. Smartderm informs nurses and supervisors of high-risk patients, indicates which patients need repositioning when, shows whether a particular position is good (e.g. all boxes green).

Smart Derm


Smart Derm



UCSF surgical resident Dr. Isabelle Chumfong and the SmartDerm team

More information

The data SmartDerm collects can be used to identify patterns in pressure changes in preceding development of bedsores, and used to enhance algorithms that could eventually help prevent bedsores from forming.The SmartDerm team hopes their device will eventually interface with electronic medical record systems, automatically notating when patients are turned so nurses can spend less time documenting their work and more time caring for patients.