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Raising the Stakes on Patient Monitoring

Fall prevention and other patient safety interventions often require visual observation to supplement scheduled rounding. In-person companion sitters are costly, and it’s not proven that their presence creates a safer environment.1 Dry erase boards don’t offer any option for video patient monitoring, so they’re not an option to include in your patient safety plan. New and innovative technologies for patient monitoring are becoming more common, but how do you know what to choose? 

Safety hazards are everywhere

Patients are often asked to Call, Don’t Fall. For example, let’s say a patient needs to use the restroom. Printed Call, Don’t Fall reminders help, but a patient in a semi-conscious state may not have the presence of mind to call before getting out of bed. They may be unable to use the in-room phone or Pillow Speaker. In other cases, some patients may be feverish or agitated and believe they need to leave the room. Falls can derail an otherwise smooth recovery and cause chaos for patients and staff. By the same token, elopement concerns or drain displacement may require more frequent monitoring. Intervention before a problem occurs helps reduce safety issues and possible CMS penalties.

“Call, Don’t Fall” goes digital

Patient monitoring has moved into the digital age with a variety of secure technologies and connectivity options. In fact, for acute care, post-acute care and rehabilitation settings, it’s possible to reduce the likelihood of falls using apps with auto-alerts and AI modules, primarily Smart Bed integration and LiDAR-type devices. One alternative is an integrated video monitoring system. Using video, Care Teams respond more quickly to patient issues2 and can mitigate potential problems sooner.

Patient on floor after falling.
Did you know that falls and fall-related trauma are now considered “Hospital-acquired Conditions”, penalized by CMS? 4

eSitter© for safety monitoring

Until now, patient monitoring required one person to monitor one patient. HCI solves that issue and presents eSitter, an integrated system to monitor patients via video and audio feed through the built-in cameras, microphones and speakers in HCI Interactive Digital Whiteboards and Tablets

eSitter patient monitoring works through MediaCare and the Interactive Unit Whiteboard located at the central Unit or Nurses’ Station. For security, the live stream of the patient room is behind the firewall and an administrative password. These precautions prevent unauthorized video access to a room.

Nurse using HCI video monitoring on desktop screen.

While viewing, Nurses and clinical monitors can make medical notes in the patient record about their observations, providing a more comprehensive care history.

The Five “P’s” in Healthcare

Using video, caregivers can note the five “P’s”  between rounds: pain, potty, position, possessions and peaceful environment. They can note any room issues, like trash on the floor that creates a trip hazard, or bedclothes or wires that become entangled in bed rails.

Selecting video option to communicate by video with patients.
eSitter allows Care Teams and clinicians to monitor patients from the Nurses' Station or central desk via live stream secure video.

Finally, it’s possible for one person to monitor any number of patients at one time. eSitter monitors unlimited rooms at one time from the Nurses’ Station or central Unit desk. How many you choose to view at once is dependent on the size of the image you want on a particular display screen.

In addition, video observation combined with two-way communication gives clinical observers and caregivers the ability to set Nurse or Rounding Notes for patients. They can push messages to patients as needed and enter new Daily Patient Goals directly to the in-room Patient Whiteboard. That means any new information entered here automatically updates all interactive devices connected to that patient.

Quote about patient monitoring for safety.

With a single touch to the patient room number or patient name displayed on the Unit Whiteboard, Nurses and clinicians call that room and patient into full screen mode with bi-directional audio and video.

Charge nurse using Unit Whiteboard

So, What Should You Look for When Choosing a Patient Monitoring System?

Consider these questions when researching a video monitoring system:

Is the patient monitoring system easy to maintain and update as needed? Does it run across the existing enterprise with no disruption to existing technology infrastructure?

What rooms are being monitored?

Is the list of monitored rooms dynamic?

Does the system allow audio intervention with the video feed?

Is the system flexible, scalable to your facility, and robust?

  • As always, look for an enterprise system that can be managed from the data center or IT department to eliminate patient interruptions and reduce IT maintenance costs.
  • The system should offer multi-room monitoring. Observers should have the ability to choose specific rooms though a simple user interface.
  • Make sure you have the ability to monitor rooms different departments or units, so you can observe as needed and at different times as the patient population changes.
  • You should be able to converse with the patient to alert them to their impending safety hazard or alert them that help is on the way, and the patient should be able to respond audibly through the device.
  • Certainly, your system should allow you to scale it to the size of your facility and patient population. Many monitoring systems are “one-size fits all.” Work with your vendor to ensure you have the system you need that works for your facility, your staff and your patients. Of course, the system should not need redundant maintenance.

Patient monitoring: Another layer of care

A comprehensive system for patient monitoring reduces the likelihood of readmission due to falls or other complications by spotting problems before discharge. A monitoring system increases safety, decreases errors, optimizes workflow and reduces burnout by reducing non-clinical trips for the Care Team. What’s more, video monitoring with a solid program of patient education helps reduce readmissions, and you can secure reimbursements with video monitoring. It’s another dimension of transformative care delivery for your patients.

HCI eSitter showing Pediatric live stream video patient monitoring.

The next level of patient safety is using digital monitoring technologies. The good news? These technologies are scalable and help prevent serious patient injuries, which can lower costs. Not only that, but you may be able to reduce penalties and increase reimbursements by implementing these types of digital hospital tools. We can walk you through the benefits and a tailored system that may work for your health system.

1 Abbe JR, O’Keeffe C. Continuous Video Monitoring: Implementation Strategies for Safe Patient Care and Identified Best Practices. J Nurs Care Qual. 2021 Apr-Jun 01;36(2):137-142. doi: 10.1097/NCQ.0000000000000502. PMID: 32658001; PMCID: PMC7899219.

2 Cournan M, Fusco-Gessick B, Wright L. Improving Patient Safety Through Video Monitoring. Rehabil Nurs. 2018 Mar/Apr;43(2):111-115. doi: 10.1097/RNJ.0000000000000089. PMID: 29499009.

3 Bradley K. Remote Video Monitoring: A Novel Approach in Fall Prevention. J Contin Educ Nurs. 2016 Nov 1;47(11):484-486. doi: 10.3928/00220124-20161017-04. PMID: 27783827.

4 https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/HospitalAcqCond/Hospital-Acquired_Conditions