Duke School of Nursing to use Leaf wearable to study patient turning procedures

By Dave Muoio
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Researchers from the Duke University School of Nursing have launched a five-year study on pressure ulcer reduction powered by the Leaf Patient Monitoring System.

The wireless, wearable sensor developed by Leaf Healthcare will track patient’s movements to determine the optimal timing for nurses to turn or reposition patients at risk for ulcers.

"We need this information to decide how to deliver the best prevention care realistically and safely," Tracey L. Yap, registered nurse, associate professor at Duke University School of Nursing, and the principal investigator of the study, said in a statement. "The standard patient turn protocol of two hours was originally set by Florence Nightingale. We are overdue to find updated ways to improve quality of life while reducing facility-acquired pressure ulcers and lowering healthcare costs.”

The study will enroll nearly 1,000 nursing home residents at nine sites. Two of these will follow the standard two-hour repositioning intervals, while three will use a three-hour interval and the last three sites a four-hour interval. Along with monitoring for a change in pressure ulcer incidence, it will examine staff satisfaction, costs resulting from various repositioning intervals, and the impact of repositioning patients on a high-density foam mattress.

To collect the necessary data, researchers will lean on Leaf’s devices. These wireless monitors are applied to the chest using surgical adhesive, where they can monitor a patient’s mobility and document progress along a prescribed mobility protocol.

Yap said that the technology will also allow her team to document precise movement, such as timestamped repositioning and the patient’s specific position, that was unavailable in prior related studies.

“This technology enables nursing staff to also work as a team,” Yap told MobiHealthNews. “For example, oftentimes what happens in long-term care is that someone could walk away or fall. Because the Leaf displays are up on the wall displaying who is due for a turn … it enhances communication and is a plus.”

In February, Leaf Healthcare announced a distribution agreement with and a strategic investment from medical equipment company Smith & Nephew. The wearable was made mandatory for certain patients at a California hospital in late 2014, but isn’t the first mobile monitoring technology addressing pressure ulcers. That claim belongs to smart bed company Bam Labs, which first announced its cloud monitoring platform-based Position Change feature in 2012.