Video tech helps monitor COVID in-patients
August 26, 2020
TORONTO – When a patient with COVID-19 is admitted to Mount Sinai or Bridgepoint, they may notice the tall metal device on wheels standing in their room. It looks a little bit like a robot, but it’s actually a camera. It’s part of an innovative new system that has been introduced to units at Sinai Health, to help clinicians check on and communicate with their patients who have COVID-19.
The Quality and Patient Safety team worked with Information Services and clinical teams to safely and securely implement the system across five units at Bridgepoint and Mount Sinai. The cameras do not record video but they give clinicians a 360-degree view inside the patient room and enable them to communicate with their patients any time, remotely from a monitor at the nursing station.
The camera rests atop a six-foot-tall mobile stand that pivots around and is controlled by a nurse, technician or trained staffer at a monitoring station. The nurse logs in and can monitor up to 16 patients at once on a TV-like screen. The nurse can talk to patients in real-time via a speaker.
If a patient needs something, they can use a call light and their nurse will respond. If it’s a safety or critical issue, or an alarm goes off, someone responds in-person immediately. If the patient has a non-urgent request, someone will attend to the need as soon as possible or when a nurse goes into the patient’s room for another reason. This helps to cut down on unnecessary patient-staff contacts.
Yan Hao, an RN on a General Internal Medicine unit at Mount Sinai has found the system to be an essential tool during the pandemic. “It reduces the frequency that I need to go into a room and don and doff personal protective equipment,” she says.
Entering patient rooms less often not only means using less PPE, but also reducing the potential for exposure to infection, helping to keep everyone safe. Yan says during the night shift, the system is often useful in helping nurses check on their patients every hour. During the day, it may be used when clinical teams are in the patient room providing care and need something from outside. Using the voice activated technology, they can request a colleague to bring a piece of equipment or water for the patient.
Sasha Smith, an RPN at Bridgepoint, says the system also provides peace of mind for patients. “Being in isolation is lonely. Sometimes they just need reassurance and to connect with someone. I can talk to them and provide that without entering the room.”
A fast implementation of the new technology was possible as the system was originally planned to serve a different purpose – monitoring patients at a high risk of falls. It was poised for widespread launch at Bridgepoint and Mount Sinai when the pandemic hit.
Agnes Tong, manager, Quality and Patient Safety, says when it became clear the falls prevention project launch would be put on hold, the team quickly saw the potential to use the technology to care for patients with COVID-19.
“Improving patient safety means thinking differently, being creative to find better ways to work and solve problems,” she says. “It was because of this type of innovative thinking that we were able to quickly change course and use this technology in a different way, to benefit our patients and employees.”
Now that the system is successfully up and running to support care for patients with COVID-19, the Quality and Patient Safety team is rolling it out for its original intended use – monitoring patients at risk of falls. Tong says it can serve both purposes and the team will continue to investigate other ways the technology could be used.
The system can be used to reduce workplace violence, to reduce physical encounters with potentially dangerous patients; for suicide prevention, to monitor patients in danger of self-harm; and for telemetry checks, to communicate with patients to ensure equipment is working properly.