As a father of two young boys, I spend many evenings reading (and re-reading) children’s books. One in particular, The Magic Bed by John Burningham, really resonates with me lately. The story focuses on Georgie, a little boy who gets whisked away on a fantastic adventure when he climbs into bed for the night. Now that Voalte is part of Hillrom, a medical technology leader that got its start making hospital beds, I’m beginning to appreciate the amazing advances in smart bed technology that, while not quite magical, are advancing patient care in a major way.
For the past 10 years, I’ve been dedicated to making it easier for care teams to communicate and collaborate inside and outside the hospital. I’m proud of the role Voalte played in pioneering the use of smartphones for care team collaboration, and I’m even more excited about the way Voalte solutions can be integrated with Hillrom technologies to help improve patient safety and promote high-quality care on a broader scale. Some of these technologies, such as contact-free continuous patient monitoring powered by EarlySense, seem like something straight out of an episode of Star Trek. Basically, a patient lies down on a hospital bed, and the nurse can instantly read his or her heart rate and respiratory rate. Here’s how it works:
Using sensors under the mattress of a Centrella® Smart+ bed, the heart rate and respiratory rate monitoring system promotes patient safety in patient care areas throughout the hospital, such as medical, surgical, orthopedic, oncology and geriatric units. By continuously monitoring heart rate and respiratory rate—important predictors of patient deterioration—sensors can indicate when these measurements exceed a preset threshold. The bed itself alerts using lights and sounds, and also sends an automatic notification to the appropriate nurse’s Voalte smartphone via Hillrom NaviCare® Nurse Call or other third-party nurse call or middleware system.
I’m not the only one wowed by the potential of this technology. Early reports from our customers include a study by Arnot Health*, which implemented heart rate and respiratory rate monitoring on the Centrella Smart+ bed in a 26-bed inpatient med-surg unit at Arnot Ogden Medical Center. The study presented seven cases in which contact-free continuous monitoring was used to identify patient deterioration and intervene earlier. Their conclusion:
“Use of the technology helped drive interventions including airway management and medication optimization for appropriate treatment and avoidance of respiratory depression.”
In one instance, when a patient was choking, an elevated respiratory rate brought caregivers to the patient’s bedside, where they cleared the patient’s airway and prevented the patient from hurting herself by getting out of bed.
When overloaded nurses are struggling with high patient census and limited line of sight due to private rooms, everything we can do to help identify signs of patient deterioration and intervene earlier can bring about some seemingly magical results.
Trey Lauderdale is VP and General Manager, Care Communications at Hillrom.
*“Identifying Patient Deterioration Early Using Contact-Free Continuous Monitoring on an Inpatient Medical-Surgical Unit,” Jan Linderberry, MSM, RN, and Shelley Derr, BSN, RN, Arnot Health, December 1, 2019.