William Cameron Powell, M.D., FACOG
Remote patient monitoring of critical patient data via mobile devices (i.e. iPhone, Blackberry, etc) is rapidly becoming a necessary technology within the healthcare IT space in order to better care for patients and improve outcomes.
There are several reasons that patient monitoring with mobile devices is important. A few examples are as follows:
- Doctors and nurses are mobile and the need for them to monitor more patients at different locations is growing.
- There is an increasing shortage of healthcare providers relative to the increasing number of patients that need to be monitored either in the hospital, clinic or at home.
- This shortage leads to a communication gap between caregivers.
- The number one cause of patient injury in a hospital is communication errors between caregivers about a patient's condition.
- There is now an expectation for real time, anywhere access to critical data.
- The healthcare community needs to improve patient safety, reduce risk and improve communication as federal regulation continues to drive technologies that improve outcomes.
- Remote patient monitoring of real time data via mobile devices can close the communication gap, lead to better outcomes, improve patient safety and make the overall delivery of quality healthcare more affordable and more efficient.
There is a myriad of problems with the healthcare delivery system in the United States. One of the core problems facing healthcare professionals and the patients they serve is an increasing discrepancy between the number of patients that need to be monitored and the number of doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers that are available to monitor them.
In the United States, the number one cause of patient injury in a hospital is communication errors between caregivers. The demands of a doctor's or nurse's day necessitate their periodic absence from the patient care environment and it is during this time that communication errors can occur.
Doctors are often in surgery, covering patients at more than one hospital, making rounds, on call, at the office, at home and thus not at the bedside all the time. Nurses and hospitalists are often dealing with new patient admissions, managing patient discharges or engaged in other work related activities that preclude them from always being at the patient’s bedside.
Within the hospital acute care environment, as in the Intensive Care Unit or in the Labor and Delivery unit, physicians and nurses rely on their ability to communicate about data that changes moment to moment. Much of the data that requires bi-directional communication involves visual data such as waveform data.
Waveform data is the moving line across a screen that provides a graphical representation of a heart tracing, an unborn baby's heart rhythm, a brain wave, a mother's contraction pattern or a host of other monitored data. Being able to visually interpret and describe changes in these waveforms helps a care provider who is remote to be able to effectively understand what is happening to that patient in real time as well as the recent past.
In this day and age of healthcare with such increasing demands on a doctor's or nurse's time, these healthcare providers are increasingly mobile. The healthcare system is burdened with solving the problem of effectively getting the right data about the right patient to the right healthcare provider to hopefully affect the right outcome.
Real time remote patient monitoring through the use of mobility has received a lot of attention lately because the focus on remote monitoring through a de-centralized model has become a reality via cutting edge technologies and breakthroughs across a wide swath of solutions from cell phones to wireless communications.
AirStrip’s first product, AirStrip OB, is now installed in nearly 200 hospitals in the US and there are several thousand physician users. AirStrip allows Obstetricians to view the real time fetal heart tracing, a mother’s contraction pattern or other critical data via a mobile device (i.e. iPhone) anytime or anywhere. Given that up to 60 percent of adverse outcomes in Labor and Delivery are due to communication errors about the baby’s heart tracing, providing this service to physicians when they are temporarily away from the bedside will result in fewer adverse outcomes, reduced patient injury and greatly improved physician and nursing workflow. AirStrip OB is the only known FDA cleared mobility solution of its kind.
AirStrip is also about to go to market with its next product line, AirStrip Critical Care and Cardiology. These solutions will provide physicians with real time remote access to critical waveforms, patient vitals, decision support information and a tremendous amount of other patient data that will help physicians better care for their patients and make more informed decisions when they are temporarily away from the hospital. These additional AirStrip products are currently pending FDA clearance.
Finally, AirStrip Technologies has developed a completely reusable and fully scaleable software development platform called AppPoint that can cut software development timelines by 80 percent and cost by 60 percent. AirStrip and soon AirStrip partners will use this platform to rapidly develop and bring to market an additional compelling suite of mobile applications that will allow healthcare providers to securely use mobile devices and cellular / wireless networks to provide real time remote patient monitoring service in virtually any environment.
The communication gap that currently exists between doctors and nurses that leads to patient injury can be closed through the use of remote patient monitoring solutions such as the AirStrip suite of mobile products.