Leveraging the power of wearables to improve the care of hospitalized patients

Barrett Larson barrett.larson@leafhealthcare.com

Abstract

Background: Not long ago, bed rest was considered therapeutic. Today we’re much more sensitive to the potential complications associated with bed rest and the medical community is quickly stepping away from this outdated practice. Patient immobility has been linked to a number of serious and costly hospital complications, including pressure injuries, pneumonia, falls, blood clots, and muscle deconditioning. Each year, billions of unreimbursed health care dollars are spent treating complications related to patient immobility. While hospitals certainly recognize that these complications can be minimized by improving patient mobility, they are struggling to ensure that patients are moving adequately.

In order to improve the management of patient mobility protocols, Leaf Healthcare has developed a wearable device that continuously monitors the movement and position of hospitalized patients. Data from the system is used by caregivers to identify patients that require mobilization, as per prescribed protocols.

Methods: To establish the clinical efficacy of the Leaf Patient Monitoring System, an investigator-initiated, pragmatic, prospective, randomized controlled trial involving the technology was performed. Over the course of five months, patients admitted to the ICU at an academic medical center were enrolled in the clinical trial. All enrolled patients received a wearable sensor. Approximately half of these patients were randomly assigned to the control group, where the sensor was used to blindly capture movement and position data in the background. For patients in the control group, staff were instructed to reposition and mobilize patients using standard reminders and documentation. In the other half of patients (treatment group), data from the wearable sensor was provided directly to staff to help facilitate delivery of optimal patient turning and mobilization.

Results: 1,226 patients completed the study and over 106,000 hours of patient monitoring data was analyzed. Compliance to mobility protocols was significantly higher in patients that had their care coordinated by the Leaf sensor. In addition to higher compliance, the Leaf system reduced the variability in the quality of care provided. These improvements in care delivery translated into a 73% reduction in the incidence of hospital-acquired pressure injuries, which are one of the most common preventable hospital-acquired conditions.

Conclusion: While wearable activity trackers have been gaining momentum in the consumer sector, the medical community has largely been struggling to harness the full power of this technology. The Leaf system provides an illustrative example for how wearable technology can be used to provide real, measurable benefits for patients and their providers.
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