Hundreds of thousands of patients fall in hospitals each year and almost half are injured in the fall. They add on patient stays and increase patient costs by an average of $14,000.
Mission Health in Asheville, NC set out to cut inpatient falls. It started up a pilot program with Cerner Corp. to reduce falls at its 34-bed neuroscience unit. The strategy consisted of new technology and revamped workflows.
Cerner Corporation recommended Microsoft® Kinect® technology to Mission Health Center for Innovation. This technology uses a depth sensor to visualize full-body 3-D movement within a 20-foot range. According to several professionals involved in the study: “The system’s infrared camera, acting as a virtual sitter, can monitor a patient’s movements under any ambient light. Thanks to open-software programming, a unique application can be created to define and draw virtual zones, trip wires, and other trigger points around a patient within a field of view. A continuously live video feed is sent across a secure wireless network to a high-definition monitor.”
The pilot program was tabbed “virtual sitter.” Along with redesigned workflow to coordinate with the new technology, the three-month pilot achieved encouraging results. There were zero falls and zero injuries for the patients monitored with the “virtual sitter.”
Among the key takeaways of the program:
- Programs can be revamped and processes revised to adopt innovative fall-reduction technology.
- An institution can review its fall-prevention program and monthly falls data to identify opportunities for improvement.
- A plan would include technology solutions and redesigned clinical workflows that complement each other.
- The institution would identify metrics of success, monitor and analyze them.
The hospital has said it will expand this program and explore other ways to use the new technology for safety and security applications.