As a third-generation nurse in my family, I along with the nearly four million U.S. nurses and the nurses who were before us, have relied on the same “technology” – the nurse call light – to care for a growing, aging, more demanding patient population. The truth is that the call light technology used in thousands of patient rooms is rarely updated and increasingly deficient in detecting and alerting staff to life-threatening scenarios.
Amazing advancements like virtual visits, patient portals and remote patient monitoring for disease management are improving communication and quality of care. But how about technology that optimizes inpatient and caregiver safety against violence and “sentinel” or patient safety events?
It’s time to overhaul the call light.
It’s time for a more interactive patient room.
As AI, virtual care, and telehealth take center stage in healthcare delivery, there is an opportunity to embrace a more interactive patient room where
- patients are protected from self-harm and adverse events in real time
- clinicians and caregivers can safely and effectively interact with patients before events escalate
- the spread of viruses like COVID-19 is mitigated
- the care team is reserved for the highest, most effective level of bedside care
Call lights, unsecured mobile devices (think baby monitors), and the questionable practice of using 1:1 sitters placed with patients presenting infectious disease or violent tendencies are neither safe nor sustainable ways to improve patient safety, experience or outcomes. As healthcare workers sometimes feel compelled to adapt unsecure workarounds to monitor potentially dangerous scenarios, it is imperative that health systems consider secure technology for optimal care and safety for every patient and every caregiver.
Thankfully, this is not a futurist mindset. A solution – remote inpatient video monitoring – does exist in most major hospitals around the country. Has it made its way into your holistic telehealth strategy?
What Exactly is Remote Safety Monitoring?
Remote safety monitoring technology provides a continuous live feed from a patient’s room, allowing hospital staff to monitor a patient while reducing exposure risks to infectious disease or violence. It improves communication, provides peace of mind and reduces stress among caregivers, patients and families. It allows healthcare workers to keep an eye on patients who are at risk or in isolation and enables clinicians to communicate with their patients any time, remotely, from a monitor at the nursing station.
Remote video monitoring, in conjunction with other safety measures, can
- help monitoring staff prevent falls, self-harm attempts, and manage other adverse events, such as elopement or wandering and interfering with medical devices.
- alert nursing staff to potentially abusive visitors,
- help staff immediately identify clinical deterioration and notify nurses,
- protect bedside staff from potentially violent patients, and
- enable remote monitoring staff to calm the most vulnerable patients.
In addition, a paper published in the Journal of Nursing Measurement shared a more personal benefit of the technology, in which a dying, nonverbal patient began humming along with a TeleSitter monitor who initiated humming the song the patient’s daughter hummed every time she visited, pre-COVID. This touching gesture created calm and familiarity in this patient’s final days.
A Holistic Telehealth Strategy Can Address Staffing Shortages, Hospital Falls, and Isolation
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing shortages, patient falls and patient violence were trending concerns in healthcare. Healthcare workers are four times more likely to suffer violence than workers in other industries. These issues have been exacerbated in healthcare environments where staffing is limited, infectious disease management is critical, and at-risk inpatients continue to be isolated due to tighter visitor restrictions.
AvaSure’s TeleSitter® Solution has been deployed in 75 percent of major health systems in 48 states. The secured audiovisual monitoring technology allows one tech to monitor up to 16 patients at a time.
In an over-burdened health system – the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic notwithstanding – we must consider telehealth technology that protects the patient and the caregiver in today’s precarious healthcare environment. And technology that allows a nurse to serve at their highest calling can only elevate the nursing profession, improve staff engagement and, ultimately, optimize each patient’s recovery.
As chief clinical innovation officer of AvaSure, Lisbeth Votruba, MSN, RN, demonstrates her vision for innovative inpatient telehealth care delivery through her compassionate leadership, activism for the nursing profession, and advocacy for the dignity, safety and quality of care for patients, families and healthcare professionals. As a third-generation nurse, she understands how important it is to keep patients and frontline medical workers safe in clinical environments.
 Remote Visual Monitoring During a Pandemic by Keeling, Eva, MSN, RN, NE-BC | Cudjoe, Joycelyn, PhD, RN | Hawksworth, Lisa, MSN, RN, NEA-BC | Drake, Jennifer, DNP, RN, NPD-BC, ONC |Davis, Theresa, PhD, RN, NE-BC, FAAN
Journal of Nursing Measurement, Vol 28 Issue 3, DOI: 10.1891/JNM-D-20-00100