Real-Time Monitoring Devices Let Physicians Watch and Learn

patient-monitoring-deviceLast week, we reported on the growing market for remote monitoring devices. The digital revolution has made it possible for physicians to track patient health data from miles away. With the excitement surrounding mobile and long-distance healthcare, it’s easy to forget that patients in a clinical setting need monitoring too. Real-time monitoring devices keep healthcare providers apprised of patient health and/or location on a moment-to-moment basis, so providers can quickly react to emergency situations and adjust treatment if required.

One research firm estimates that the U.S. market for patient monitoring devices (including self-monitoring equipment) could reach $8 billion by 2015, although other estimates are more conservative. Samuel Greco, CEO of medical monitoring company CareView Communications, attributes the boom in monitoring devices to a continuing drop in technology prices, ease of use, and the increasing acceptance of electronic tools.

Remote monitoring devices generate a lot of data, which will need to be managed and integrated with the patient’s EMR. There is a risk that hospitals will suffer information overload. According to Greco, hospitals need to make some important decisions. “If it’s true that you manage what you measure, then one of the critical aspects of all hospitals is making an effective decision of what you’re gonna measure.”

CareView Communications is chaired by former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. The company offers a HIPAA-compliant suite of real-time video monitoring products for use in a hospital setting. Products include virtual bed rails to detect impending falls, a video feed that can let a soldier in Iraq witness the birth of his baby, and a tool that enables physicians to make virtual rounds. With the patient’s approval, hours of video can be cut into a “trailer” of key moments and uploaded to the patient’s record.

Here are some other companies providing solutions in this growing space:

Radianse patient tracking software utilizes radio-frequency tags to keep tabs on patients as they move through a care facility. The patient’s location is automatically updated within the system. Radianse Reveal Patient Tracking can also be used for Alzheimer’s patients who tend to wander, or to track medical devices within a hospital.

LifeSync Corporation markets a wireless electrocardiogram that allows patients to be untethered from lead wires. The device allows patients increased freedom of movement, and may save nurses time. According to the company’s website, one study found that nurses spend an average of 40 minutes per day, per patient, dealing with lead wires.

The Preventa family of products, developed by Sensiotec, offers real-time monitoring of vital signs and patient location. The system can track heart rate, respiration, bed occupancy and movement. Sensiotec’s VitalTrak device can also lock doors or disable elevators if a patient wanders into a defined area.

How can healthcare organizations successfully integrate monitoring devices without experiencing data overload? Do you know of any real-world examples? Feel free to share your opinion on the subject.

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