Can vital sign monitoring technology put confidence back into care?
Research conducted by the Care and Support Alliance reveals the public's lack of confidence in the care system and NHS. One in three Britons either rely on, or have a family member who relies on, the care system, but shockingly six in 10 are not confident they will receive 'sufficient' care.
These figures come after a wave of accounts that stroke fatalities are linked to weekend nursing shortage – as covered by The Times – reports of Midwife shortfall ‘impacting on care’ as stated by Nursing Times and recruitment issues in care homes – as seen on the BBC.
So what can be done to improve treatment and put the confidence back in care?
Firstly, the government is planning to unveil major care reforms ahead of next May's general election, including terminating the postcode lottery, capping care costs and rolling out the Better Care Fund. Yet another thing that can significantly improve care, is the implementation of innovative health technologies.
As seen when the Ministers of Science and Research visited us, the government is supporting the role of medical technology in improving care. During this visit our patented Oxecam technology, originally developed at Oxford University's Institute of Biomedical Engineering, was demonstrated and this highlighted the importance of the innovative technology being developed.
Our camera-based non-contact vital sign technology (Oxecam) provides an alternative where the inconvenience or cost of other solutions is restrictive or impractical. The Oxecam allows patient monitoring for extended periods, which can help address the shortage of skilled nursing resource by automating the time consuming manual activity of vital signs recording (1). It also enables safer care through more rapid identification and treatment of deteriorations and avoids the physical limitations and discomfort associated with 'wired' solutions, and provides healthcare-friendly hygiene advantages, improving the overall care experience of the patient.
Not only this, it also delivers significant cost savings by being able to provide lower cost monitoring, reducing admissions to and shortening stays in intensive care as a result of faster identification and treatment of complications and reducing expenses such as travel by facilitating more remote monitoring.
Professor Malcolm Green recently discussed how the Oxecam reduces infection due to being a non-contact technology. After all, the risk of patient-to-patient infection is reduced if patient measurements are carried out using camera-based monitoring, rather than by health professionals moving from patient-to-patient. Hygiene in hospitals is obviously crucial owing to the likes of MRSA and C. Difficile but there is also a downslide too, as there are a lot of cleaning procedures, which take up a lot of time. And as you can see from recent news reports, time is precious in an over stretched healthcare system.
Professor Green explains: "Healthcare staff on wards now have to follow vigorous washing and cleaning procedures with associated paperwork, before and after every task. While this is essential, it is also time consuming and staffing levels have not increased commensurately. Thus we now have stretched resources, difficulty in funding extra staff, but increased workload."
Oxecam minimises patient-to-patient contact, reducing infection chances and as a result saves time, while improving care by also reducing paper work. This all leaves nursing staff to take on more pressing and patient focused tasks, which is a good step forward to putting confidence back in care.
(1) Research done by the University of Oxford has shown a median time of 7 minutes per patient to monitor vital signs and that with 9-11 patients per nurse this equates to over an hour per shift for every nurse.