The Patient Tele-Monitoring Program Story

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Image of an early prototype of the telemonitoring system with camera and speakers (left); an early version of the monitoring computer (right)

To address the rising number of adverse post-surgery events in vulnerable patients, UHN and other North American hospitals have introduced the bedside sitter role: a person who provides personal, around-the-clock observation. Someone who sits in the patient’s room, ready to intervene and prevent patients from accidentally injuring themselves through falls or not following their treatment plans. Although effective at reducing a number of adverse events, direct personal patient observation is costly and is a rapidly growing financial burden on our health care budget, calling for a technology-backed alternative.

Working closely with the Sprott Department of Surgery at UHN, TECHNA has designed, built and successfully implemented a technology solution to provide 24/7 remote observation of patients at risk for adverse events. Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, Surgeon-in-Chief at UHN and the clinical lead and sponsor of the project stated that “the Telemonitoring Program at UHN not only developed advanced and innovative technology to improve patient safety, but also led to savings in the cost of constant monitoring of patients at risk.”

The first-in-Canada Patient Tele-Monitoring Program allows a two-way communication between a trained tele-monitor technician and up to six patients at a time from outside their hospital rooms. A motion detector sends notifications through the monitoring computer to the technician, allowing them to verbally direct the patient to keep their treatments in place or stay in their bed if getting up by themselves is unsafe. The technician can also dispatch calls through touch-based interaction, with the patient room and event displayed in the touched video feed.

Integrated within the UHN network, the program has been implemented across multiple sites: Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, with rave reviews from its users. It is already saving operational dollars for the hospital, and a significant reduction in the staffing hours needed for patient bedside sitting – while maintaining a high level of patient safety.