Mobile Devices: A Solution to Fix ER Overcrowding

You wouldn’t necessarily connect the two but emergency rooms and mobile phones are  coming together to keep you from sitting for hours in the ER, and possibly, saving lives.

How? According to Kalorama Information attempts to avoid ER overcrowding are one of many factors leading hospitals to purchase advanced patient monitoring systems with wireless capability.

In order to meet the increasing need for emergency services, many U.S. ERs are being pushed to their maximum capacity.  Nearly 120 million people visit a hospital emergency room every year, for everything from heart attacks to infected bug bites. As a result, many ERs need to divert patients to other hospitals, often when the ambulance is en route and the patient is in critical condition.

“Portable monitoring devices, which increase the ability of the staff to keep track of patients, may reduce some of the need for diversions,” said Melissa Elder, Kalorama Information, analyst and author of the report. “Additionally, staff shortages are another cause of diversions which may be addressed with the improved efficiency and workflow gained by using more efficient monitoring devices.”

The report states sales of these systems more than doubled between 2007 and 2011, and halting ER overcrowding is one of the reasons why. The U.S. market had a value of $3.9 billion in 2007, increasing to $8.9 billion by 2011, healthcareitnews.com notes.

It was a recent survey by the American Hospital Association that found that ERs were most affected by this, for many reasons, including the fact that many people on Medicaid use the ER for non-emergency care, driving up healthcare costs, and ER over-capacity.

But according to the report, “advances in remote patient monitoring including new peripherals, real-time audio and video for ‘face-to-face’ interaction between clinicians and patients,” and wireless communication now allow systems to “sort” the massive amount of data collected in order to put it into the context of a patient’s condition.

Portable and ambulatory monitors, web-based access to patient records, systems that transfer data to an electronic medical record (EMR), and outsourcing that includes a clinician to evaluate data and send a report to the attending physician, are all helping to keep ERs under control, the report reveals.

But it’s not just long, boring waits in the ER to see a doctor for your fractured ankle or what you think might be the flu.  ER overcrowding in the U.S. represents an emerging threat to patient safety and could have a significant impact on the critically ill, according to the National Institutes of Health.

And with an aging population, where many more people will become critically ill in the years ahead, ER overcrowding is something that must be fixed now. Mobile devices seem to hold one of the answers.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

By Deborah Hirsch , HealthTechZone Contributor

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This entry was posted in Electronic Health Records, Latino health trend, mHealth, Mobile Health, Patient Care, Primary care physicians, RPM (Remote Patient Monitoring), telehealth, telemedicine. Bookmark the permalink.

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