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At Narayana Health Heart Hospital in Bengaluru, nurses spend less time visiting patients’ bedsides to record their individual health information. That’s because around 700 beds in the hospital are now equipped with connected sensors that monitor vital signs such as blood pressure, respiratory rate, temperature and pulse and transmit that information to dedicated computers and smartphones.
However, patients in the hospital cannot see the sensors at work. For them, they are similar to the patch used for EKG and are placed on the chest. Inside these patches are sensors that connect to a real-time health monitoring system (RTHMS) designed by the Indian arm of US technology giant Honeywell, which uses Internet of Things (IoT) technology to transmit data via the cloud to a dashboard that can be accessed on computers and smart phones. The two companies announced their partnership in May.
Renowned cardiac surgeon Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, who is also the chairman and chief executive of Narayana Health, said nurses in most hospitals have to spend about 15 minutes visiting each patient to check and record health data. “Nurses hate the job and at 12 o’clock at night when the patient is woken up to record some of these vitals, they get yelled at,” Shetty said.
He said hospitals should focus on making a nurse’s job more interesting and productive. The Honeywell solution also provides information such as patient position, blood oxygen level and ECG. “It’s reliable and provides data on any vitals you want,” Shetty said.
To ensure privacy, patients are identified only by their bed number, said Nandakumar K., CEO of Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions for India. In addition, the hospital must decide on the limited number of employees who have access to this health information.
Narayana Health is among a growing number of hospitals in India looking to adopt such solutions that can enable a medical center to have more intensive care unit (ICU) beds. According to Shetty, currently 5-10% of hospital beds are designated for critical care, but in the near future, almost half of them will be designated for critical care.
Sure, the use of such technology to monitor patients’ vital signs is still limited, but hospitals are warming up to it. In March, Manipal Hospitals announced it would combine a patient tracking solution from Singapore-based ConnectedLife with wearable trackers from Google-owned Fitbit to monitor the progress of patients recovering from high-risk surgeries.
Nandakumar said the company expects to have 30 to 50 hospitals using its RTHMS product by the end of this year.
“Nurses walk nearly 9 km each day during work to carry out repetitive tasks. Hospitals want to minimize it and focus on providing better healthcare,” he said, adding that several hospitals, large and small, are currently conducting trials.
However, such systems are not without questions. Anmol Puri, partner at Deloitte India, said there has been “significant adoption” of new healthcare technologies and they could become mainstream in the future. However, he also noted that standardization of data management, security and privacy and policies on the use of such data will help increase trust in it.