Hospitals and healthcare systems have come under huge scrutiny by healthcare regulators for ineffective addressable of hospital-acquired illnesses. In the USA, Medicare and Medicaid Services have imposed hefty penalties on hundreds of hospitals for failing to prevent high occurrence of various hospital-acquired illnesses. The Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program (HACRP) links medicare payments for hospital claims to the quality of healthcare for in-patients. A study conducted in 2016 by Johns Hopkins Medicine indicated medical error to be the third leading cause of death in the US. While the facts of this study are being examined, lack of continuous patient monitoring and surveillance has been clearly noted.
Continuous clinical surveillance can help hospitals and healthcare organisations to improve safety standards and better patient outcomes. Continuous surveillance allows doctors identify patients with signs of health deterioration at an early stage and take necessary actions alerting caregivers to ensure patient safety. Any delay in identifying early signs could result in deterioration of health or in extreme cases lead to patient’s death.
Although continuous surveillance is not a new term in the healthcare sector, it is interesting that patient monitoring and surveillance are used interchangeably even though there is a significant difference in both. Surveillance is based on realtime attention to patient that enables caregivers to assess patients’ health from a centralised location. Unlike the conventional monitoring, surveillance relies on active patient monitoring and the systems leverage real-time data from various monitoring devices to analyse and provide insights on patients’ health. This data facilitates intervention by nursing staff and clinicians thus preventing any life-threatening events.
Continuous surveillance involves seven key clinical attributes: attention, timeliness, recognition, intuition, analysis, action and collaboration. In today’s healthcare environment, it is quintessential for medical devices to be integrated to be able to keep the clinicians informed by providing realtime patient data to draw meaningful inferences. Integration of medical devices for surveillance revolves around aspects such as timely delivery of accurate data, two-way communication and data integrity. Medical device integration for continuous clinical surveillance calls for a project team of experts that comprises leaders from various departments including doctors, technology team, facility management etc.
With technological advancements, today’s healthcare systems bring together different departments across locations to provide better care to the patients. Increasing patient safety and minimising medical errors can be achieved when organisations move away from isolated working models to a completely patient-centric integrated set up. Healthcare organisations will benefit from establishing surveillance systems that enable continuous monitoring of patients and support clinicians in providing effective care while avoiding potential loss of lives.