Sensing patients' needs 24/7
A unique Israeli-made contact-free patient monitoring system is winning attention and investment dollars for its potential to save lives, shorten hospital stays, and save money for patient-care facilities.
The accuracy of the FDA-approved EverOn System to measure, record, and document respiration and heart rate automatically and continuously is detailed in a report published this month in the Journal of Medical Engineering and Technology. Its manufacturer, Ramat Gan-based EarlySense, also stresses the wider effects of its capabilities.
"We have been running clinical trials not just to show that EverOn is accurate, but also to show that it helps hospitals become safer and more efficient," says EarlySense CEO Avner Halperin. "Those using the system have found it helps them better manage the operation of their clinical teams."
Normally, nurses take vital signs only every four hours. EverOn's continuous supervision of patient status allows for an immediate medical response to any change in the patient's condition requiring intervention.
The system is comprised of an under-mattress sensor, a bedside monitor, and a central display system at the nurses' station that simultaneously tracks the medical status of up to 36 patients. It also has an option for sensing motion, allowing nurses to see when a patient needs turning and when a patient exits the bed. In addition, it can send an alert to healthcare staff via a handheld mobile device when it senses a change needing immediate intervention.
A system that saves lives
EverOn showed a measurable difference for patients at several US and Israeli medical centers, where it was tested with children, adults and obese patients.
Dr. Harvey Brown, a pulmonologist and critical care specialist who was the principal investigator in the US trials, says EverOn detected an abnormally low respiratory rate in one of his post-surgical patients early enough to avoid a possible respiratory arrest. It led to the fast discovery of an abnormal heart rhythm in another patient, and alerted nurses to the progressively rising respiratory rate of a patient with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Each was successfully treated before the conditions worsened.
"One of the really nice features of the EverOn unit is the ability to show trends in key parameters, specifically heart rate and respiratory rate," says Brown. "These trend plots can be accessed very easily with the bedside unit and they’re available to both nurses and doctors.
"A look back at trends in either heart rate or respiratory rate helps nurses in determining whether that parameter has changed significantly and whether to notify the physician."
Halperin adds that during the clinical studies, the system several times alerted nurses to internal bleeding, a life-threatening event that can be difficult to identify clinically. "Another area where our system helped nurses and doctors save lives was in quickly detecting the reduced breathing rate that can be a dangerous side effect of pain medications."
50% less patients needed higher levels of care
Early detection of deterioration encourages proactive intervention, which reduces "never events," preventable scenarios such as patient falls and bedsores. US healthcare facilities are monitored for "never events" by the Washington, D.C.-based Joint Commission, which sets national guidelines for patient safety.
"Bedsores are the No. 1 patient safety risk," relates Halperin. "Hospitals and nursing homes know they need to identify high-risk patients and turn them according to protocol. EarlySense helps them do this by documenting if there has been too little movement, reminding staff to turn the patient, verifying that they were turned and providing automatic written documentation."
The contact-free system also has been clinically proven to reduce significantly the number of patient falls, he notes. This is of particular concern in the care of aging patients who may fall out of bed, or stumble on their way to the bathroom. Nurses can be alerted by EverOn if a patient who is not permitted out of bed gets up anyway.
At Brown's hospital, EverOn's continuous monitoring led to significantly fewer bedsores and falls, and to a reduction of more than 50 percent in the number of patients requiring transfer to higher levels of care.
Brown says that the reaction of the nursing staff to the system has been uniformly positive. "The nurses view this as an extension of their own abilities. It allows them to feel comfortable attending to their patients knowing that their other patients are being constantly monitored, and if a problem were to occur they would receive an alert and immediately would be able to go to the bedside," he adds.
Overall outcomes improved
Halperin predicts that every healthcare facility will soon need technology to aid in the care of a growing aging population by a limited pool of trained nurses. "This will be the only way to continuously supervise and intervene when necessary," he says, adding that an EverOn system is to be installed in a US nursing home next year.
Brown notes that he has begun to admit patients preferentially to the area of the hospital where the EverOn system is available. "I feel the nurses take better care of patients and that the overall outcomes are improved," he explains.
EarlySense, which plans eventually to launch EverOn and future related products globally, won the Popular Science Best of What's New Award in the Health category at the November 17-19 Medica Trade Fair in Dusseldorf, the largest medical device conference in Europe. The company handles sales, marketing, and some clinical work through its Boston-area office while R&D, manufacturing, and additional clinical work is carried out through its Israeli headquarters.
In June and October, EarlySense announced major financing rounds bringing the total amount raised in 2010 to $20 million. To date, EarlySense has raised $31 million.
"Pitango first invested in EarlySense in June of this year when we led the C round," says Ittai Harel, a partner at Pitango and a member of EarlySense’s board of directors. "We had high hopes for the company at the time of investment, and now, just a few short months later, our commitment is even stronger, as each day brings additional accounts of how the EverOn system helped to make a positive difference for both patients and healthcare providers."