Continuous monitoring helps slash hospital length of stay

Continuous, contact-free electronic monitoring of hospital patients helped to reduce length of stay by roughly 9 percent, according to research published this month in the American Journal of Medicine.

For the study, the researchers, from Los Angeles-based California Hospital Medical Center and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, compared a 33-bed medical-surgical unit (an intervention unit) to a "sister" control unit for a total of 18 months--a nine-month preimplementation period and a nine-month postimplementation period. Following the intervention, monitors enabling continuous assessment of patient heart and respiration rates were installed on all of the beds in the intervention unit.

Overall, length of stay decreased for patients by 0.37 days, or 9 percent. For those patients in the intervention unit post implementation who underwent an intra-hospital transfer from the medical-surgical unit to the intensive care unit, the average length of stay decreased by two days, or 45 percent; the rate of code blue events, overall, decreased by 86 percent.

More than 7,600 patients were involved in the research.

"Early detection of patient deterioration in general care units should be a top priority for healthcare institutions," David Bates, chief quality officer at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said in an announcement. "Continuous monitoring is a key factor in recognizing and promptly responding to early warning signs, which should help decrease patient morbidity and mortality, as well as length of stay and costs."

The U.S. market for patient monitoring technology--increasingly moving outside the hospital--is expected to grow to more than $5.1 billion by 2020, according to a recently published report by iData Research. The report points to the growth of multi-parameter vital sign monitors, electroencephalograms (EEG), electromyograms (EMG), cerebral oximeters and pulse oximetry devices in particular for fueling that growth. The pulse oximetry-monitoring market alone is expected to exceed $1 billion by 2020.

To learn more:
- check out the study abstract
- here's the announcement

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