Page 66 - Security Today, October 2020
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"Remote monitoring adds an extra layer of patient observation and accelerates the response to emergencies."
Positive Outcomes for Hospital Patients, Providers
Remote Monitoring
There is a movement underway in healthcare services to utilize technol- ogy that acts as a force-multiplier in patient care. The movement is called remote patient monitoring, and it involves the use of IP network-based video surveillance technology. Remote monitoring has been demonstrated to improve patient care and lower costs. Such solutions also play a critical role today in the care of patients being treated for COVID-19, contributing several benefits for both patient and hospital.
Video systems for general surveillance of lobbies, corridors, perimeters and parking garages have been employed in the health- care sector for decades. Further, it’s not uncommon for hospitals to have cameras in triage areas, operating rooms and the like, to ensure that healthcare workers are comply- ing with personal hygiene protocols and room preparedness. The shift to using IP video systems in patient rooms, however, happened about five years ago — the impetus being to enhance patient care by providing response to critical conditions more quickly.
Success stories in remote patient monitor- ing are abundant. Today, these solutions involve thousands of cameras used in hun- dreds of hospitals across the United States.
A Typical Remote
Patient Monitoring Solution
Whether it’s installed in Emergency Rooms (ERs), Intensive Care Units (ICUs), or other types of patient rooms, a remote monitoring solution usually consists of vid- eo-streaming capabilities provided by an IP network camera; audio capabilities such as a microphone built-in to the camera or two- way audio with a speaker; and analytics often included on the camera (called “edge-based analytics”).
Visual-based analytics include conditions such as patient movement beyond the hospi- tal bed (going past a virtual “fence”). Audible analytics are tuned to the specific frequen- cies of various sounds, such as aggressive voices, coughing, breaking glass, and even gun shots. Dome cameras and cube cameras are popular, or in some cases PTZ cameras
Remote monitoring of patient hospital rooms using IP network surveillance yields immediate benefits in care, efficiency and safety
Nemours Hospital
may be installed. Wide dynamic range is advised, to compensate for either brightly lit or poorly lit rooms.
Always at the receiving end of the system are healthcare professionals who remotely monitor the patients through these high-reso- lution “clinical” cameras. While the imple- mentations vary from hospital to hospital, the goal of the system is the same: to serve as additional eyes and ears for the nurses and doctors, and to reduce alarm response time from minutes to just seconds. At Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Fla., the cam- eras are monitored by a rotating team of para- medics in a Tactical Logistics Center (TLC). The paramedics check patients’ vital signs, lab work, patient history and clinical reports. In addition to the data, the TLC integrates live streaming video and audio from the network cameras in each patient’s room through the medical records software.
The TLC covers 100 beds at Nemours and 150 beds at a sister hospital in Wilmington, Del., proving that the system really is struc- tured to operate remotely. Because the sys- tem is SIP-standard, doctors can use their cell phones to also see the patients. This enables them to have a proactive response even before entering the patient’s room.
Privacy can be concerning for patients’ families not familiar with remote monitoring technology, so providing education in vari- ous forms — such as pamphlets, a web page with frequently asked questions, one-on-one discussions, and other methods — can help ease concerns. One of the talking points of privacy is reassuring families that technolo- gy does not take the place of people — rath- er, it complements them and acts as a force multiplier. Nemours describes it as a third layer of care, following in-room care and then floor care.
Another key aspect of privacy is compli- ance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), a federal law that restricts access to a person’s medical information. In order to comply with HIPAA requirements and other laws, remote patient monitoring systems don’t ever record images or conversations of any patient.
At Nemours the cameras have a red privacy LED that comes on to alert anyone in the room that someone from the TLC has con- nected to the camera and is streaming live video. At other hospitals, such as Advocate Health Care, a group that operates more than 250 sites of care including 12 hospitals in the Midwest, when cameras are turned off, they face away from the patient toward the wall. When turned on, the cameras adjust to face the patient.
Improving Patient Outcomes
Advocate’s program is called electronic intensive care unit (eICU) and it covers almost 400 patients. According to Advocate, studies have shown that around-the-clock support from an eICU facility is effective in reducing clinical complications; extending intensive-care physician expertise to more patients across the network; improving patient outcomes and reducing length of stay; and collecting useful data that may be analyzed to improve clinical processes.
Although hospitals and medical centers continuously monitor patients’ vital signs, patient health can’t always be assessed by clinical data alone. Seeing the minute chang- es in a patient’s skin tone or noting increased
By Paul Baratta

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