Gamers know about Xbox, a video console for playing popular games like Halo and Madden NFL. Now Mission Health is using Xbox technology to help make hospital patients safer from accidental falls.
The Mission Center for Innovation recently teamed with health care high-tech giant Cerner to develop an interactive virtual sitter solution called Cerner Patient ObserverTM. The core technology involves aiming an infrared Xbox Kinect® camera directly at an inpatient in a hospital bed
or chair, and the camera tracks a 3-D skeletal image of the patient and also projects a virtual guardrail around the patient. If the patient tries to get out of the bed or chair, an alert goes to a monitoring technician, who can immediately communicate with the patient in the room. The goal is to remind the patient to remain in place and determine if assistance is needed.
“Typical bedrails and bed alarms can only do so much, and all hospitals still have problems with falls,” says Marc B. Westle, D.O., FACP, Mission Health senior vice president for innovation. “But when we did a pilot program on the Xbox virtual sitter program, we had zero falls.”
Westle says the vision is to monitor patients on multiple units, multiple floors, and in multiple facilities across western North Carolina, all from a centralized location.
“Here at Mission, we concentrate only on major innovations for big identified problems,” he says. “We collaborate with key strategic vendors whose intellectual property might not be fully developed, and we partner with them to develop and pilot the technology in the clinical workflow.”
Westle says Mission Health is small enough that innovators don’t need to get in a long line to explain their inventions or advancement ideas, as is the case at many major research hospitals.
“We talk to key strategic vendors and to learn about technology they’d like us to refine and get into the clinical workflow. If we have a problem their technology could solve, we are selective to take on certain projects and work with these companies for development,” he says.
Is Mom Checking Her Glucose?
Another project the Mission Center for Innovation is tackling involves diabetes care, with technology that allows relatives and/or caregivers of diabetes patients to gain instant access to the patient’s blood glucose readings.
“In diabetes care, typically a doctor tells a patient to check their glucose readings two-to-three times a day every day, then come back and see the doctor in two or three weeks to go over the readings and make adjustments as necessary,” Dr. Westle says. “Fast forward: What if you were connected to your mother or father’s glucose meter via media secure internet connection and were notified instantly if their reading was too low or too high? In addition, you’d also be notified if Mom or Dad didn’t bother to check their reading.”
Mission is working with a company with a cellular-enabled glucose meter that uploads readings to the cloud, meaning Mom or Dad’s reading is immediately available on a smartphone or tablet for a caregiver, physician, son or daughter to see.
“This is a secure technology platform, and only designated people will have access to the patient’s information,” Westle says. “At Mission, we are transforming health care – one innovation at a time.”
*Featured Image - Dr. Marc B. Westle and a technician monitor patients using Cerner Patient ObserverTM technology.