Editorial note:
These articles may pre-date our recent FDA clearance, Some references may not accurately reflect this.
Editorial note:
This article may refer to our solution as the "Digital Care Assistant", which we recently renamed to "Oxevision".

Revolutionising mental health observations: The digital observations tool that lets patients sleep

Groggy. Irritable. Confused. A bad night’s sleep impacts everyone.

So imagine what it does to someone with mental health issues.

Sleep is a crucial component of mental health, playing a key role in emotion regulation, memory consolidation and cognitive function. Think of how often someone’s said to you, “You’ll feel better with a good night’s sleep.”

“A good night’s sleep” does not occur accidentally. Controlling the environment — specifically light and sound — is essential for ensuring the body gets its proper sleep cycles. This is especially important for people with mental illness, as they commonly experience chronic sleep difficulties, which can induce or exacerbate mental health disorders. Results of one 2019 study, for example, suggest that insomnia is a significant predictor of depression.

What matters to me most about Harry’s care when he is in a psychiatric hospital is his sleep,” says a mother whose son has autism and schizoaffective disorder. “I believe sleep’s the most important thing to get him well and back to where he should be.”

Observations for patients in mental health inpatient settings: a catch-22

In mental health inpatient settings, staff will check patients are safe and well through regular observations; often as frequent as every 15 minutes both day and night.  This can be devastating to a patients’ wellbeing and recovery as staff must enter each patient’s room, often with a flashlight, to manually count the breathing rate to assure them that the patient is alive and well.

Observations are used to prevent self-harm and suicide in inpatient wards. However, many believe it can actually drive suicide risk, causing a cycle known as the “safety-sleep-suicide spiral.”The checks increase sleep disturbance, which compounds a patient’s suicidal tendencies, which increases the need for more frequent or even continual observations. And on and on.

Source: https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2020-05741-003

A study from 2022 found that night-time sleep disturbance in a mental health hospital predicted suicide risk above and beyond anxiety and prior suicidal ideation and attempts. “Findings indicate the need to reevaluate safety protocols that may impact sleep,” the study’s authors write.

Oxehealth’s Oxevision Observations lets patients sleep

To counter the negative effects of observations, mental health providers are turning to Oxevision Observations, the new additional module available with Oxehealth’s innovative vision-based patient monitoring system, Oxevision.

Oxevision Observations supports the digital documentation of patient observations throughout the day and has real-time compliance-supporting functionality. Yet it is so much more than just an observations tool.

At night, with the help of cleared medical device software, staff can use Oxevision Observations to carry out their observations and patient safety checks without causing disturbance to patients who are asleep in their rooms. It does this with:

  • Contact-free, time-stamped pulse and breathing rate measurements, as accurate as contact devices, to provide confirmation that the patient is alive and well
  • 15 seconds of clear vision into the room (with strict privacy controls) so staff can use their clinical experience and insight to confirm the patient is safe, just as they would during conventional in-person observations
  • A time saving of 41% at night compared with standard observation methods.

“The way that nursing observations have taken place, with nursing staff checking patients in person, has not really changed for decades and can be incredibly disruptive to patient sleep, ”says Pauline Scully, Deputy Chief Operating Officer of an NHS England mental health provider . “Working with Oxehealth is transforming the patient experience at night while providing reassurance to staff that the patient is safe.”

Improved patient sleep benefits staff too. Better sleep creates a safer work environment, as staff members no longer have to risk waking up a potentially volatile and confused individual. Patients get their sleep and staff members get their assurance and data — safely. Everybody wins.

“I’ve been in the mental health system for a total of seven years since I was 18,” says one mental health patient. “Before, the staff would come in all the time during the night, use flashlights, and wake you up. It was very stressful, especially when on medication. Now, [with Oxevision] they don’t disturb [my] sleep as much. I think the system is great for that.”

To learn more about how Oxevision Observations can help your patients and staff, contact us.

Sources: Sleep cycles; the 2019 study showing insomnia as an indicator for depression; the Sleep Foundation – mental health and sleep; the “safety-sleep-suicide spiral”; “A time savings of 41%“

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