Devices & Technology

The L&D App: Remote Monitoring Connects OB Teams and Patients

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By Suzi Birz, principal, HiQ Analytics, LLC

Nov. 6, 2009 - If you are a busy obstetrician, nurse midwife or L&D nurse, monitoring patients in labor while providing other essential patient care services can be a challenge. Now, as the commercials say, “There’s an app for that.”

AirStrip OB
Clinicians can monitor fetal heart rate, maternal contractions and other patient data remotely with the AirStrip OB technology.

While fetal heart rate and maternal contraction monitors have been used to assess the well-being of the fetus and the mother during labor for years, these monitors are at the bedside on the labor and delivery unit, traditionally accessible only to those on the unit.

Now, when not at the bedside, the clinician can see the real-time status of the patient on a mobile phone.

AirStrip OB, from AirStrip Technologies, delivers patient waveform data, including fetal heartbeat and maternal contraction patterns, from the hospital to a mobile wireless device.

“Remote monitoring does not take the place of the clinician at the bedside. It allows clinicians to see the same information that nurses are seeing even when performing other clinical responsibilities off the labor and delivery unit,” explained Lynn Simpson, M.D., a physician in obstetrics and gynecology at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. “Nurses no longer have to describe the waveforms, communication is facilitated and everyone caring for the patient is looking at the same data, making interpretations safer.”

“Remote monitoring allows another pair of eyes on the strip,” said Donna Morrow, RN, vice president of professional services for AirStrip Technologies. “Having the physicians interpret the strip along with the nurse increases the nurse’s confidence while increasing the safety to the patient and the clinicians,” added Morrow.

The technology also provides hospital staff with the latest nursing notes, vital signs, order results and other data from the hospital labor and delivery unit. “The waveforms and blood pressure come directly from the monitor and other data comes from perinatal systems,” explained Morrow.

“Prior to remote monitoring, a nurse would call to alert me to a change in patient status,” described Simpson. “Now, I continually check the data and might already be heading back to the unit as my phone is ringing with a call from the nurse.”

When there is a change in patient status, physician intervention can take place with less delay.

The status of the labor and delivery unit can be watched as well. “Charge nurses use remote monitoring while away from the unit to keep track of patient status and change staffing as appropriate,” added Morrow.

“In addition to the impact to physicians and nurses, the improvement in safety is a patient benefit,” said Andy Brailo, vice president of strategic accounts for the Premier healthcare alliance based in Charlotte, N.C. “Remote monitoring increases the patients’ confidence in the hospital.”

“This technology helps hospitals meet The Joint Commission communication standards,” noted Paula Baker, RN, Premier’s director of sourcing. Currently in use at more than 100 hospitals across the country, the technology was recently made available to Premier’s 2,200 member hospitals through its group purchasing division.

AirStrip OB can deliver the data to the iPhone, Blackberry and any Windows Mobile platform and is interfaced with several perinatal systems.

“Our mission is to improve the quality and safety in communities,” said Brailo. “This product, which delivers remote healthcare surveillance, drives safety and efficiency with real-time information delivered to the clinician and creates a differentiator for the hospital.”

“Remote monitoring is indispensable, I cannot imagine being in practice and not having it,” added Simpson.

In addition to its obstetrics application, AirStrip provides remote monitoring for other specialties, including cardiology, critical care, laboratory and imaging.

© 2009. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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