How virtual patient observation is improving critical care
In September 2014, the United States recorded its first case of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) within its borders. This disease was first discovered in 1976 in Africa and is named after the Ebola River where the disease was first recognized. While there have been prior outbreaks, the 2014 epidemic is the largest in history with more cases and deaths than all others combined – 20,381 reported cases, 13,021 confirmed cases and 7,987 deaths. This has prompted many countries to re-evaluate this disease and the procedures for dealing with it.
When it was confirmed that the United States had its first case, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) started working with U.S. agencies as well as the World Health Organization to evaluate the Critical Care standards and procedures in place. The CDC recommended changes which included isolating the patient in a single patient room with a closed door, limiting the number of healthcare workers (HCW) who come into contact with the patient, monitoring the patient at all times, log HCW who enter the room, and additional scrutiny of the donning and doffing procedures. Hospitals have been working to implement these new guidelines and are looking to technology to assist:
- Virtual Patient Observation– Using cameras in the room and Patient Observers in a command center to provide 24/7 monitoring of the patient while reducing Healthcare Worker interactions.
- Patient Interaction– Leveraging integrated communication technologies to allow constant communications between the patient and healthcare providers.
- Healthcare Professional Monitoring and Logging– Using camera, electronic triggers, and RFID tags and readers to monitor and record the Donning and Doffing process, logging the entrance and exit of healthcare workers, track infectious disease samples and testing and track and monitor the proper disposal of infections waste.
- Telemedicine– Using audio and video technologies to interact with the patient reducing the exposure of healthcare workers while providing improved and collaborative healthcare solutions.
- Virtual Visit– With diseases like Ebola extending the isolation timeframe it becomes more critical for patient health and wellbeing to provide access to family and friends. Technologies like Virtual Visit allow direct communication with the patient while reducing direct interaction with the patient.
With pressure to meet changing regulations and reduce costs, Hospitals are turning to technology to empower the Healthcare Professional and improve the patient experience.