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The Wall Street Journal Talks to Hospitals Battling COVID-19 with Technology

Posted by Heather Hitchcock on May 18, 2020 8:06:00 AM

HoustonMethodist-vICU-6How do we expand capacity? How do we get expert eyes on patients? How do we reduce clinicians’ exposure? Is there a way to be even more efficient with our PPE? Can we use analytics to help better manage patients?

These are the questions that hospitals are asking themselves today as they battle current waves of the pandemic and prepare for the next waves of a virus that is unlike anything anyone has seen before.

The Wall Street Journal recently looked into how hospitals are using AI and other tools to assist them in their COVID response. Remote patient monitoring and evaluation of patients with fragile conditions are some of the many ways that technology is allowing healthcare to provide a whole new level of care during the pandemic, and beyond.

Roberta Schwartz, Ph.D., chief innovation officer at Houston Methodist, was interviewed. In a previous article in Becker’s Hospital Review, Schwartz mentioned how Houston Methodist was already in the process of rolling out Sickbay and turning on the hospital’s new virtual ICU. Thanks to the software-based design of the solution, they were able to rapidly scale bed capacity and protect providers from exposure. In the recent article in The Wall Street Journal,  Schwartz mentions how the Houston Methodist flagship hospital where she and her colleagues serve is leveraging the remote monitoring and analytics solution at scale:

One medical expert in the hospital’s clinical command center can watch dozens of patients via remote monitoring.

Information from ventilators, electrocardiogram machines and oxygen pumps is combined with data from each patient’s electronic medical record and vital signs. The data is fed into Medical Informatics Corp.’s Sickbay patient-monitoring and analytics platform. Machine-learning algorithms analyze the data to determine the status of ICU patients.

If the algorithm identifies a patient that needs to be watched more carefully, the section of the command center computer screen associated with that person turns red.

“[Doctors have] caught huge amounts of clinical issues because all the information was in one place and someone was watching it at all times,” Ms. Schwartz said. Some of those issues included pulmonary embolisms and major heart episodes, she said.

The need to limit bedside interactions so hospitals efficiently use PPE, such as N95 masks, face shields and gowns--and limit caregivers’ exposure--is another high priority consideration during this pandemic. The article notes that without remote monitoring, nurses, doctors and other hospital workers need to go into ICU patients’ rooms several times per day—each time needing to dispose of or sanitize protective equipment.

What’s Next?

Houston Methodist was ready for the first wave, is ready for the next, and has the foundational infrastructure needed to unlock all data from the bedside to enable data-driven medicine and operationalize the development and deployment of patient-specific analytics at scale. They have not only created a sound pandemic response, but also the foundation for a new standard of care.

While this virus has caused a large amount of devastation, one good thing has been the realization that data really can help caregivers save lives, a fact that is important for today and for tomorrow.


Want to know more about leveraging data from the bedside to enable a whole new standard of care? Download the free Guide for Hospitals Battling COVID. If you need help with funding remote monitoring at your hospital to prepare for the next surge and change the practice of medicine at your facility, apply to the Scale to Serve Program. Or, want to discuss your current needs in more detail? Schedule one-on-one time with one of our clinical advisors today.

Interested in learning more about new strategies to fight coronavirus?


Topics: virtual icu, remote monitoring, covid-19, bedside monitoring, innovation, data analytics


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