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Improving Patient Safety with Mobile Technology

With two important conferences back to back, May promises to be an exciting month for telemedicine, mobile health and the team here at Zephyr Technology. Early this month we, as part of the Qualcomm Life Pavilion, will kick off with the 2013 American Telemedicine Association Annual International Meeting by presenting our newest, wearable patient monitoring system. From there, we fly to New Orleans to share our experiences with other thought leaders in patient safety at the National Patient Safety Congress. While the proximity of these events to each other may be coincidental, it emphasizes the importance of technology in the fight to reduce patient risk both in the hospital and at home.

Proper patient safety leads to an improved quality of life as well as cost reduction associated with injury. For example, 36 percent of patients having abdominal surgery will develop stage 1 or 2 pressure ulcers, commonly known as bedsores. This alone can add up to $40,000 to a patient’s hospital stay and increase the time spent in the hospital from 3.5 to 5 days. People who are bedridden are most at risk of developing pressure ulcers and, while it is good clinical practice to get patients up and walking early, this increases the risk of falling and the burden on the clinical staff.

The innovative application of mobile technology can both aid in the accurate detection of patient safety risks and quickly alert caregivers with actionable information. Traditional telemetry systems, which automatically transmit measurement data, are too cumbersome for the clinician to deploy, too restricting to the patient’s mobility and too expensive for the hospital to roll out across a large patient population.

Zephyr, with support of Qualcomm, is exploring the capability of wearable mobile monitoring systems. Today, the advantages of unobtrusive physiological monitoring systems are being explored at Sanborn Place, a supportive living community in Reading, Massachusetts. Here, up to 50 residents are being monitored in their apartments by trained staff who remotely assess residents’ vital signs in context with activity and posture. This system already has reduced visits while assuring around the clock care. Our secure, wireless system covers the entire facility and seamlessly follows residents in their apartments, common areas and even during physiotherapy and exercise. As a result, caregivers report that they are able to work with the residents on maintaining or even improving independence without reducing medical care and supervision.

Zephyr recognizes the importance of the continuum of care—it doesn’t stop when exiting through the hospital doors. To facilitate this transition, we are creating solutions to monitor patients outside of the hospital using smart phone applications, leveraging mobile broadband solutions and a secure portal for physicians, monitoring technicians and even family to review. This near real-time and easy access to information allows for better care and rehabilitation choices for doctors and families.

Demonstrations of these solutions can be seen at the Qualcomm Life Pavilion at ATA, and the NPSF Congress (booth #422). Come see all that mobile technology and applications are making possible. 

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