VA reduces mortality and adverse events with bed sensors

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

A contact-free sensor system placed under a mattress to monitor continuous vital signs has proven its value to the Veterans Administration, which tested the solution on more than 1,000 patients with spinal injuries.

The EarlySense Monitoring System was used for a year on 1,150 chronically ill veterans with spinal cord injuries at a VA Spinal Cord Injury Center (SCI). According to VA officials, the sensor system reduced by more than 60 percent the number of medical response team (MRT) activations, halved the number of Code Blue activations and reduced ICU transfers by some 40 percent. In addition, the sensor system cut the mortality rate following MRT/Code Blue activations by a whopping 83 percent.

"These are at-risk patients and it is vital to protect their clinical progress," EarlySense president Tim O'Malley said in a press statement. "A reduction of 80 percent in mortality following major deteriorations is a breakthrough in quality of care which the professional team at the SCI Center should be applauded for."

EarlySense, based in Israel with a North American headquarters in Waltham, Mass., markets a sensor array that's slipped beneath a mattress and measures heart and respiratory rate, as well as movement. The company debuted the technology at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Mass., in 2013, then reported strong results in a 2014 study with Harvard University Medical School.

In that study, the results of which were published in the American Journal of Medicine, researchers compared a 33-bed medical-surgical unit to a sister control unit for a nine-month pre-implementation and a nine-month post-implementation period. Results showed a decrease in the overall length of stay by 0.37 days, a reduction of 9 percent. The average stay in the ICU for patients transferred from the medical-surgical unit was significantly lower post implementation of the sensors by about two days, a 45 percent reduction. The rate of code blue events decreased by 86 percent. 

"Early detection of patient deterioration in general care units should be a top priority for healthcare institutions," said David Bates, MD, director of the Center for Patient Safety Research and Practice, senior vice president for quality and safety and chief quality officer at Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, in a press release.

More recently, Early Sense launched a consumer-facing product that pairs with a smartphone app for home health use, and announced a partnership with Beurer to market the product in Europe as the SE 80 SleepExpert.

The results of the VA study were presented at the Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals (ASCIP) 2015 Educational Conference, held Sept. 6-9 in New Orleans.

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