Patient monitors: a segment poised for growth and innovation

por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | May 19, 2016
Health IT Patient Monitors
From the May 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

MD Buyline also believes that wearables hold promise for outpatient settings. “I think that patients who have traditionally been in the hospital to be monitored will have the option of being monitored from home,” says Brandi Crow, clinical analyst at MD Buyline. Hospitals are looking into medication adherence monitoring and blood glucose monitoring so they can get a good profile on how the patient is responding to different medications, and then be able to trend it.

Also, in the case of heart failure patients who weren’t adherent to their diet and had too much sodium, the doctor can receive alerts about that and address it before patients are readmitted. “The whole goal is to keep people out of the hospital. It seems like the hospital would want that, but with reimbursement and value-based care, it is changing everything,” says Crow.

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Not ready to take over
Wearables are exciting, but they aren’t advanced enough yet to take over the turf of traditional monitors. The most that wearables can do is monitor heart rate, respiratory rate and ECG, but in an inpatient setting you need to also be able to monitor end tidal CO2. “Traditional patient monitors that are mounted on the wall, plugged into a centralized system — they can monitor a lot more parameters than the wearable sensors that are being offered right now,” says Kerry Riek, associate in the applied solution group at ECRI.

The reliability of the wireless network is also a concern for high-acuity patients in particular. “There is a chance that a wireless signal can drop out and I’m not sure how robust redundancy is for wireless networks in hospitals,” says Riek. For now, there seems to mainly be an interest in using wearables as a supplemental technology for lower-acuity monitoring and helping nurses with some of their tasks. VitalConnect’s VitalPatch, which is a Band-Aidlike, disposable wearable, was designed for those purposes.

“We are not so much a replacement for that spot check as we’re a supplement that gives you updated information showing that a patient’s condition may have changed between the times when you are picking up some of these other measures,” says Valeska Schroeder, senior vice president of product management at VitalConnect. But Scripps’ Steinhubl believes that eventually wearables will replace traditional monitors.

“I think that in the future, if you are sick enough to be admitted to the hospital, that means that you are probably sick enough to be monitored continuously, and right now the vast majority of people in the hospital aren’t,” he says.

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