A decade ago, Christiana Care was one of only a handful of health care systems to invest in flex monitoring technology. This has allowed for continuous ECG monitoring for any non-ICU patient in any bed in either hospital.
Along with the Flexible Monitoring Program, Christiana Care rolled out the STAT (stability, teaching, assessment and telemetry) nurse program, which today is known as the Rapid Response Team (RRT).
Marc T. Zubrow, M.D., director of Critical Care Medicine and medical director of eCare and Flex Monitoring, notes that flex monitoring improves patient satisfaction and reduces costs by decreasing room transfers when a patient requires monitoring.
“Patients are happier because it allows them to remain in the same space where they were admitted, and the health care system saves the cost of moving them,” Dr. Zubrow says.
Christiana Care’s flex monitoring capability of 350 beds is the largest in the nation, according to Welch-Allyn, a maker of frontline medical diagnostic and monitoring equipment.
The latest enhancement, as part of a performance-improvement project, will be the addition of continuous-pulse oximetry, a non-invasive method of monitoring the oxygenation of a patient’s blood, along with the ECG monitoring. Fifty Micropaqs® will be outfitted with pulse oximetry, in addition to the ECG monitoring already available. It is believed that this enhancement will help clinicians identify patients sooner who may be at risk for cardiac arrest.
“Our research suggests the majority of patients who code outside the ICU are having primarily respiratory problems, not cardiac,” says Dr. Zubrow. “With pulse oximetry, we will hopefully find patients who are in trouble earlier, thus averting a code blue.” Code blue is a hospital term used to indicate a patient requiring immediate resuscitation, usually due to cardiac arrest.
Currently, 11 techs monitor up to 290 patients at Christiana Hospital, while two techs monitor up to 60 patients at Wilmington Hospital, including patients in the Rehabilitation unit.
“That enables us to monitor patients while they continue uninterrupted with their rehabilitation,” says Anita K. Witzke, MSN, RN, nurse manager, eCare Virtual ICU and Flex Monitoring.
Remote monitoring also eliminates alarms locally on the floors that can disturb patients and staff.
“We hear that on our side, in the Flex Monitoring Center,” Witzke says. “Nurses can focus on patient care—and patients can focus on getting well.”