Continuous monitoring using wearable sensors in general hospital wards may help detect patient deterioration earlier than traditional spot check methods and assist clinicians in improving patient outcomes. GE Healthcare is rolling out a set of wireless, portable sensors designed to be worn by patients during their hospital stay, making it easier for clinicians to keep track of their vital signs without routine check-ins. Wireless monitoring allows earlier patient mobilization, a key indicator for recovery, particularly post-surgery. This innovative technology was developed at GE Healthcare’s global center of excellence for monitoring solutions in Helsinki, Finland.
The goal is to help keep a closer eye on inpatients and people recovering from surgery-while allowing them to stretch their legs and interact with visitors, without being confined to a hospital bed-and also alert healthcare providers to any early signs of deterioration that may require a move to intensive care. The Portrait Mobile system includes a waterproof, smartphone-like mobile monitor, which collects information from wearable sensor patches that capture the patient’s breathing rate, pulse, and oxygen saturation. Designed to complement GE’s portfolio of wired, bedside vital sign monitors and telemetry devices, Portrait Mobile has received a CE Mark for use in Europe but has not yet been cleared by the FDA.
GE estimates that about 65% of hospital patients are monitored manually and not continually, with nurses and physicians performing spot-checks every four to six hours. That includes more than 90% of patients who are recovering from an acute procedure, where opioid painkillers can lower a person’s rate of breathing and pose a major safety concern.
Remote monitoring technologies made strides during the pandemic, with the FDA expediting green lights for wireless sensors that could help cut down on the number of interactions between patients and providers and lower potential exposures to the coronavirus.
But even before COVID-19, medtech companies have been working on ways to separate the hospital patient from the nest of wires and patches tied to screens and beeping machines that are ubiquitous in today’s wards. That includes truly contactless hardware, with FDA granting clearances last year to systems that can measure a person’s vital signs using radar sensors and optical cameras.
Globally, an estimated 65 percent of hospital patients and over 90 percent of post-acute care patients are monitored manually and not continually. Many vital sign changes are missed during spot checks which often occur at four-to-six-hour intervals. A UK national audit of adult in-hospital cardiac arrests showed that more than half (57 percent) occurred on the wards and only five percent in the ICU where patients are monitored continuously. Most patients who end up in cardiac arrest or critical care, don’t suddenly deteriorate but rather present with earlier vital signs that show abnormal trends. Respiratory rate is the highest-ranked variable in models predicting clinical deterioration in the hospital.
With Portrait Mobile, respiration rate, oxygen saturation and pulse rate for general ward and post-surgery patients can be captured wirelessly, continuously. This innovation allows caregivers to identify changes that may signal that cardiorespiratory complications or infectious diseases may be developing. It gives clinicians the opportunity to act early and potentially avert serious adverse events.
“In an evaluation clinical study conducted at a London hospital in the UK, 90 percent of nurses reported that they feel more reassured about their patient’s condition when continuous monitoring is used versus vital signs spot check measuring,” said Erno Muuranto, Engineering Director at GE Healthcare in Finland. “Portrait Mobile provides reliable measurement technology and meaningful alarms in a mobile setting.”
For patients, Portrait Mobile’s wireless continuous monitoring helps with the ability to move about the hospital, without being restricted to the bedside. This also allows visitors to interact with the patient without technology getting in the way. Moreover, the solution provides patients and family members peace of mind knowing that monitoring is constant – even when the patient is out of their room. Patient mobility may help improve patient outcomes and reduce the length of stay, which may lower costs and elevate patient satisfaction.
Portrait Mobile is designed to be as reliable as wired technology. Its routable communications architecture enables hospitals to leverage their existing network infrastructure when deploying the system, reducing installation and maintenance costs.
Portrait Mobile was developed in Helsinki, GE Healthcare’s global center of excellence for monitoring solutions where engineers have been developing patient monitoring technology for decades. Today, GE monitors are used in hospitals across the world – from Beijing to London, New York, and more.