It’s your father’s 75th birthday and the whole family is gathered to celebrate the milestone. With the cake about to be served, your father collapses and blacks out. You immediately call 911 and an ambulance rushes dad to the hospital.

After the ER

Your father is diagnosed with Bronchitis and is admitted to the general care floor as a “low-acuity patient.” Acuity is a medical term that hospitals use for a range of non-critical ailments, mainly to estimate nurse staffing and budget considerations.

While at the hospital, you discover that your father ‘shares’ his nurse with an additional seven patients. As wonderful as your nurse is, there’s no denying that it can be quite stressful caring for eight patients simultaneously. Medical situations can drastically change at a moment’s notice. Additionally, alarm fatigue can result when nurses are exposed to an excessive number of false alarms, which can result in desensitization and missed alarms.

"Studies have shown that early monitoring can provide advanced notice of up to 8 hours prior to potential life-threatening events, reduce patient falls by up to 43 percent and pressure ulcers by 64 percent."

Then you have the patients, perhaps like dad, who try to get out of bed without nurse assistance. This can lead to bad falls, sometimes causing more harm than the original condition for which the patient was originally admitted.

Changing the picture

One way that hospitals are overcoming these difficulties is by adopting new proactive patient monitoring systems. These medically proven solutions offer impeccable accuracy and advanced analytics on a patient’s well-being. Such systems monitor patients constantly, as opposed to spot checks performed one or twice a shift by the nurse.

One of the most attractive features of advanced monitoring technology is that it is “invisible.” Instead of having to wear uncomfortable sensors on our fingers or chest, it uses a “contact-free” sensing solution that is placed under a mattress or the cushion of an armchair to monitor heart rate, respiratory rate and motion. When tracked together, these parameters can provide several hours warning, in advance of a medical situation that would require intervention—for example, a heart attack.

In fact, recent studies have shown that early monitoring can provide advanced notice of up to 8 hours prior to potential life-threatening events, reduce patient falls by up to 43 percent and pressure ulcers by 64 percent. Additionally, it can reduce the number of daily alarms by more than 90 percent, which means that the chance of a nurse paying serious attention to the alarm is higher.

A wireless way forward

Invisible patient monitoring technology is changing the game for older patients, as well as children who may have trouble remaining physically tethered to ECG electrodes or chest straps. Even the average adult will be much more comfortable with “wireless” monitoring.

Proactive patient monitoring is quickly gaining traction in the U.S. and around the world. Hospitals are adopting it because it saves lives. Nursing departments are embracing it as a tool to provide more effective care and to assist with compliance. But of course, the most important beneficiaries are the patient and the family.

As more facilities continue to adopt medically-proven early detection technologies, we will see an overall rise in the quality of patient care, and a significant reduction in low-acuity patients turning into critical cases. Now, you can look forward to dad’s 76th birthday, and beyond.