Wireless Device Offers Easier Way to Monitor Patients

By Erin Delmore

Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck is hooking patients up to a new technology that’s revolutionizing the way nurses care for their patients.

“So maybe once every four hours, once every six hours, depending on the patient condition, a nurse would come in, or a nursing assistant would come in, and take your temperature, take your pulse, take your blood pressure which, if you’re sleeping, is a disturbance,” said Holy Name Chief Nursing Officer Sheryl Slonim.

“We can actually see all their vital signs at any time,” said Nurse Manager Johanna Marto. “It’s not like we do our vital signs every, you know, four hours or every two hours. We’re capturing it at that moment.”

The ViSi Mobile gives nurses information on core vital signs like blood pressure, heart rate, skin temperature, respiration and blood oxygenation. Holy Name is using them on patients occupying floor beds. Not in the ICU, where patients are already continuously monitored.

“Sometimes a lot of people kind of correlate the ViSi Mobile to a Fitbit or to an Apple Watch. It does similar things, but we differentiate because we do all vital signs. All core vital signs, along with patients’ posture, and also that continuous non-invasive blood pressure. So we like to call it our ‘smart watch’ for the hospital,” said Anthony Conti, clinical consultant for Sotera Wireless.

The device is a continuous surveillance monitor worn on a patient’s wrist. It’s wireless — the first in this area.

The ViSi Mobile is the size of a beeper. It weighs four ounces and holds a charge for 12 to 15 hours. It runs on the hospital’s wireless network and transmits data back to the nurses’ station.

Gone are poles, wires and tubes patients used to contend with en route to the bathroom or hallway.

“As a clinician, when we get our patients out of bed, we don’t have to worry about getting more wires out to get them up and get them moving, which is the most important for our patients. They don’t like to be in bed, so we want to keep them moving,” Marto said.

Now, hospital staff is offered a continuous picture of patients’ health, which administrators say enables them to intervene faster to stabilize a patient or admit him or her to intensive care. Holy Name spent years testing the technology with the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center of the U.S. Department of Defense.

“Much of this technology is tested for our military in the field so they can be monitored when they’re injured, remotely,” Slonim said.

Right now, Holy Name is compiling the data it’s gleaning from this new launch, looking closely at “quick saves” by the nursing staff and how they’ll implement the program going forward.