Optimizing The Research Flow: How Wireless Vital Signs Can Help
In 2010, the Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Value & Science-Driven Health Care examined ways to improve the way clinical research is conducted in the 21st century. It concluded that the ideal would be a virtuous circle in which research and practice worked closer together, feeding in to one another.
“Where we are ultimately headed,” the report concluded, “is to establish the notion… of a learning healthcare system. This is a system in which evidence is generated as a byproduct of providing care and actually fed back to those who are providing care, so that we become more skilled and smarter over time.”
Now, as we enter the third decade of the 21st century, wireless vital signs monitoring is poised to enable this vision.
Gaps in the research flow
The IoM roundtable identified the three limitations restricting the effectiveness of traditional research methods as expense, time and generalizability. Researchers observing in person are limited in the number of cases they can monitor and more researchers means more money and time. Problems also arise when research data is generalized to populations broader than those enrolled in the trials.
Making research data accessible to practitioners when they need it was also identified as a drawback, one that could be improved with broader use of electronic health records.
Saving time and money
One of the main drawbacks with traditional research methods is that much of the monitoring is carried out on a one-to-one basis, meaning the return on investment in researchers’ time is poor. This restricts the scale of research that can be carried out, resulting in small sample groups and data that cannot be accurate applied across the whole population.
Wireless vital signs monitoring provides the scalability that traditional methods lack. Data from hundreds of patients at a time can be gathered and monitored by a single analyst, giving a much greater return on investment, as well as a broader spread of evidence.
Matching the data to the patient
The need to personalize clinical care has become increasingly evident as we have learnt more about the differing effects that treatments can have on different patients, due to factors such as genetics, circumstance or co-morbidities. But such information is rarely available to clinicians when they need it. The need to determine how an intervention works in practice, rather than under ideal research conditions, requires data to be gathered from practice records.
The growing use of wireless vital signs monitoring means that a much richer database of practice records can be amassed. Moreover, the data is collated directly into electronic form – no paper records being inputted by fallible humans – and thus is more reliable and accessible.
Drawing research closer to practice
This brings us on to the need to create a complementary cycle of research and practice, one feeding the other all the time, building up the knowledge base and, in turn, increasing the effectiveness of interventions.
A key player in this is the patient. Vital signs such as pulse rate and blood pressure are known to be affected by the setting in which measurements are taken – due to anxiety of being in a clinical setting, for example. Added to this, much of the continuous monitoring equipment used in the ICU is invasive, expensive and impractical for use beyond the emergency wards.
Wireless vital signs monitors allow the patient to be monitored continuously in the general ward and even at home, where they are most comfortable and relaxed and thus the readings are most reliable.
Why continuous monitoring matters
The ability to monitor patients continuously, rather than takingmeasurements every few hours as is traditional, could be the most significant improvement to clinical research of all. Several studies have found that continuous monitoring of blood pressure in post-operative patients once they have returned to the general ward highlights events that intermittent monitoring missed.
The implications of this in the research setting are huge. How can we be sure of the effects of an intervention on patients unless we monitor every heartbeat?
From reactive to proactive healthcare
The 2010 IoM roundtable report observed that “the kind of healthcare system we would want to provide our own care would be information rich but patient focused, in which information and evidence transform interactions from the reactive to the proactive”. Wireless vital signs monitoring has the capability to deliver on all those ideals.
Providing continuous, non-invasive, scalable, accessible data with a degree of accuracy that has been certified as ICU level, this technology is ready to give us the 21st century healthcare system we’ve been waiting for.
Caretaker Medical is a Wireless Digital Health company that has developed a continuous ‘beat-by-beat’ Blood Pressure and Vital Signs monitor that eliminates blind spots between traditional intermittent spot-check monitors and untethers patients from mobility-restricting wires and hoses. The FDA-Cleared Caretaker4 wireless monitor utilizes a simple finger cuff and patented Pulse Decomposition Analysis technology to measure uninterrupted blood pressure, hemodynamics, and other parameters for wire-free, “touchless” remote patient monitoring that maximizes patient comfort and clinical decision-making.