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Healthcare, Embedded and Connected

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, June 10, 2014

Behind the scenes, nurses coming on shift assign themselves as the nurse providing care for that room, so not just any nurse's badge entering the room will silence the alarm. At shift change, the nurse signs off being assigned to that room and the next set of caregivers signs in, Gustafson says.

Although this system is in use only in private rooms, an extension of the technology will eventually allow use in oncology settings with multiple patients per room. "The next iteration of this technology will improve the sensor specificity beyond the room level to the bed level," Gustafson says. Sensors at the head wall of each bed would properly record events at that bed without recording events at any of the other beds in that shared space, she says. "That is something that we're looking at for those additional spaces," she says, citing preop, postanesthesia care units, the emergency department, and infusion areas. "We're not there yet, but that's coming."

Gustafson also notes that every time a caregiver crosses a threshold that cancels an alarm, that event is recorded. "If there is ever a situation where a parent should say, 'I pushed that call button an hour ago and nobody has come,' we can pull that report and we're able to review it and potentially share it with the patient or the parent to say, 'Here's the time the nurse call button was pressed.' "

Nemours doesn't precisely know the return on investment of these innovations, but the innovations are aligned with the business mission of the hospital.

"For us it really was about that patient experience, that patient- and family-centered care model," Gustafson says. "We were really looking at our Family Advisory Council and saying, 'What would make this experience ideal for you?' "

The Internet of Things is also making inroads in ambulatory care. Aided by embedded digital technology, a simple piece of paper can serve multiple duties.

Sanford Health, an integrated health system with 39 hospitals, 140 clinic locations, and 1,360 physicians, uses these pieces of paper to keep tabs on patient flow through its facilities.

At Sanford's newest clinic, which opened in April in Moorehead, Minnesota, patients receive such a paper at registration. The paper indicates the room assignment and includes a map. "We're going to allow a patient the option to go straight to their own room rather than waiting for an escort or waiting in the lobby," says Jeff Hoss, vice president of clinical operations, Sanford Clinic Fargo.

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