Philips' Visual Patient Avatar was inspired by synthetic vision technology used on airplanes. (Photo courtesy of Philips)

Philips' new tool mitigates anesthesiology errors with heightened situational awareness

October 19, 2023
by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter
In what will be a new option on select IntelliVue patient monitors, Philips has released Visual Patient Avatar, a monitoring solution that displays complex patient data in the form of animated designs to improve situational awareness and reduce anesthesia-related errors.

Visual Patient Avatar is designed to mitigate time constraints and overload, which are responsible for poor situational awareness in the OR, the cause of 81.5% of anesthesia-related errors, according to Philips. With it, providers can see colors and movements in their peripheral view without directly looking at the monitor, allowing them to continue to focus on the surgical field. It is designed for all clinical levels and distinguishes between stable and dynamically changing conditions, so clinicians can act without parameter alarms being triggered.

In studies conducted by the University Hospital of Zürich and Philips of 150 clinicians in two Swiss hospitals, clinicians recalled more than double the number of vital signs they saw after viewing Visual Patient Avatar monitors for 3- and 10-seconds, compared to conventional ones. It also increased the percentage of vital signs by 57% when viewed for 10 seconds and reduced the perceived workload involved with this task by 12%. During its first use, 73% of all vital sign information was correctly identified.

The solution is the brainchild of consulting anesthesiologists and licensed pilots Drs. David Tscholl, and Christoph Nöthiger, of the Visualization Technology Research Group at the Institute of Anesthesiology at the University Hospital of Zürich, who discussed its use this month at the American Society of Anesthesiologists conference in San Francisco.

“We know the impact that situational awareness has on the successful outcome of our tasks and the safety of those who are affected by our work. In the air and in the OR. We had a vision to simplify the way critical information is presented in clinical settings, and working with Philips to help bring this vision to life is sure to help revolutionize care,” said Tscholl and Nöthiger in a statement.

Tscholl and Nöthiger were inspired to create the solution from their love of flying, seeing similarities between the OR and cockpit. Airplane dashboards use synthetic vision technology to create illustrations that mirror flight environments and tell pilots what is going on around them to make flight-related visual decisions. Both Tscholl and Nöthiger saw the potential and logic here for reducing human-made errors in anesthesiology and vital sign monitoring in the OR.

“By helping clinical care teams make timely decisions without losing their cognitive focus, they can prepare for what may come next — improving patient outcomes and saving lives,” said Christoph Pedain, general manager of hospital patient monitoring at Philips, in a statement.

Visual Patient Avatar will be available on IntelliVue MX750, MX850, MX400, MX450, MX500, and MX550 in 185 countries.