_HEALTH MEDICINE Technology

A Cup That Counts
An interdisciplinary team of health care researchers at Drexel have invented a new way of monitoring patients' consumption of liquid supplements in the hospital.

Malnutrition, or undernutrition, commonly affects older adults across the geriatric care continuum and can increase the risks of illness and death for vulnerable patients. Oral liquid nutrition supplements are used to help patients gain weight, but the research and information on how much is consumed is usually incorrectly reported or not even reported at all by busy nurses.

Rose Ann DiMaria-Ghalili, an associate professor in the Doctoral Nursing Department and Nutrition Sciences Department in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, saw a need for a digital device that automates the recording and monitoring of liquid intake, including oral liquid nutrition supplements, to keep better track of intake and free up nurses’ time for other activities.

Together with co-inventor Kambiz Pourrezaei, a professor in the School of Biomedical Engineering and Health Systems, she leads a team of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary researchers developing a patent-pending “Smart Cup” for monitoring nutritional intake in the hospitalized.

So far, the Smart Cup tested well in 20 drinking tests with college students and 49 drinking tests with ambulatory cardiology clinic patients. All of the participants agreed the cup was easy to use and drink from, and 90 percent said the weight and the design of the cup made it comfortable to hold. The prototype has met the proof of feasibility for measuring drinking time and volume. Future research and development will focus on enhancing the human-factor for design and usability and testing the device in a hospital setting.

A Cup That Counts