Can smart hospital beds replace patient monitors?

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | April 04, 2017
Medical Devices Patient Monitors
From the April 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine


Although hospitals are cost-conscious, they see the added value in the smart bed data, says Ken Clark, senior technology solutions manager of Stryker’s medical division. “When you look at the impact the beds can have on programs such as a fall prevention program at a hospital, the return on investment can be significant,” he adds. “In the ICU, the protocol reminders allow caregivers to better track events such as turns and skin checks, again helping caregivers to better improve outcomes and reduce the cost of care.”

In December, Stryker delivered new S3 Med-Surg beds to Three Rivers Hospital in Brewster, Washington, and provided free upgrades to the iBed technology. The hospital can now benefit from anti-fall warning lights and sounds to help protect high-risk patients. If a patient typically moves two to three times per minute and starts to move 10 times per minute, the smart bed technology can
spot that change and alert clinicians.

Hill-Rom, another major player in the hospital bed market, also offers smart beds that can send alerts. Alerts can either be transmitted through the EMR or sent directly to nurses’ mobile devices. “Some customers want us to integrate with the EMR so we can send relevant patient information like bed weight and head of bed angle,” says Paul Johnson, president of patient support systems at Hill-Rom.

“If the patient is going through some therapy in the bed, they want that information transferred to the EMR so they can keep track of it.” The big question on customers’ minds is if these smart beds can replace patient monitors. Hill-Rom gets many requests for beds that are capable of monitoring respiratory and heart rate. “If we can do that in a reliable and sustainable way, that might be an interesting way to provide some of the real-time monitoring,” says Johnson. “Whether it replaces it or not, it’s a little early [to tell], but I think there is some natural synergy that will probably occur and we are looking at it.”

Hill-Rom is testing different technologies and looking into creating a bed that can run the patient data through sophisticated algorithms to predict if the patient is going to move or get out of bed.

Floating bed
Hill-Rom recently introduced its Envella Air Fluidized Therapy (AFT) bed for specialized wound care. It’s geared toward patients with burns or skin grafts from a surgical procedure. “It’s like floating on air,” says Johnson. “There are silica beads [inside] that heat up and get excited and create a frictionless surface.” AFT helps to accelerate wound healing and reduce complications, which helps to improve outcomes for patients with flaps/grafts, stage 3 to 4 pressure injuries and deep tissue injuries. Joerns Healthcare’s Dolphin Fluid Immersion Simulation (FIS) system is a competitor of Envella. This system redistributes pressure by simulating the effects of a body immersed in a fluid. It automatically measures the characteristics of patients when they are on the support surface and then creates a personalized immersion profile.

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