Palomar turns to wrist-worn devices for wireless patient monitoring

Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, Calif., is the first hospital in the country to use a wrist-worn device that continuously monitors a patient's vital signs to make clinical decisions, according to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

In lower-acuity care units, normal procedure is to spot check patient vital signs every few hours. However, in the new 11-story, 740,000-square-foot Palomar Medical Center, an FDA-approved ViSi Mobile System from San Diego-based medical device company Sotera Wireless transmits patient data to clinicians' remote viewing devices and alerts clinicians if there are any signs of health deterioration in patients.

Sotera claims its ViSi Mobile System is the first system to enable continuous wireless monitoring, while providing a patient complete freedom of movement and ensuring clinicians maintain around-the-clock surveillance of key vital signs.

"The Visi system currently allows us to measure heart rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, breathing rate and oxygen levels without having to disturb the patient," said Dr. Benjamin Kanter, Palomar Health Chief Medical Information Officer, at a Feb. 22 press briefing at the hospital, accorrding to the Union-Tribune.

The information is transmitted through Palomar Medical Center's wireless network, and is electronically stored, the article states. The system includes an alarm notifying clinicians of changes in patient status and potential health emergencies.

The hospital chose to first use the system on a general surgical acute care floor for post-operative patients. "We chose that unit because of the fact that the patients coming out of anesthesia need to have frequent vital signs [measurements], and this monitor allows that to happen regularly and continuously," said Lorie Shoemaker, Palomar Health Chief Nurse Executive in the article. "Our goal is to ultimately offer this to other med-surg units here at the new Palomar Medical Center."

In related news, students and faculty in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at Oregon State University recently developed an inexpensive microchip that monitors a person's vital signs at a fraction of the cost of commercially available solutions. While the technology is not yet patented, the tiny and disposable sensor-packed chip will cost less than $0.25, and is expected to be released in mid-2013.

To learn more:
- read the article