New iPad-based 'early warning' system for hospital patient monitoring

December 12, 2013 by Lionel Tarassenko
New iPad-based ‘early warning’ system for hospital patient monitoring
The new track-and-trigger tablet system integrates patient vital signs with an early warning system

Handwritten medical observation charts could become a thing of the past in hospitals with the development of a pioneering patient monitoring system developed in Oxford hospitals. An iPad-based early-warning system developed with Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funding is one of the projects funded by the 'Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards' £260 million NHS Technology Fund to improve patient safety. The £1.1 million funding will allow the team of biomedical engineers and clinicians from the University of Oxford and the Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Trust to roll out the system across all adult wards in the Trust's acute hospitals.

The new approach uses the latest computer tablet technology both to record and to evaluate patients' vital signs. It will help alert medical staff to patient deterioration on the wards more reliably.

You can find out more about the research in an audio slideshow below:

The video will load shortly

The Research Council UK's Digital Economy Programme, which is led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, funded the research underpinning this unique 'track-and-trigger' ; its translation onto the ward was supported by the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), which brings together university academics with clinicians at the Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Trust.

Just as now, nurses will regularly take readings of a patient's vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure. But instead of writing the information on an observation chart, they will input it into an iPad or computer tablet. An Early Warning Score will then be calculated automatically and displayed instantly. The nurse will use this score to help decide whether medical intervention is needed.

Researchers in the University of Oxford's Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBME) and clinical staff from the OUH Trust, in particular Intensive Care Medicine specialists Drs Peter Watkinson and Tim Bonnici, have worked in close collaboration to develop the system. The EPSRC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training at the IBME is also enabling the study of the clinical impact of the new system at first hand across a variety of wards.

"The new system will help nurses, who work in busy, high-pressure environments, care for patients more efficiently and effectively," says Professor Lionel Tarassenko, Professor of Electrical Engineering, who leads the project.

"The traditional chart-based method of recording vital-sign data is susceptible to errors in both recording and analysis of vital signs. This has been shown in multiple studies, including one funded by the Oxford BRC. Furthermore it limits the availability of the data to the bedside, making its sharing across the hospital difficult.

"The new electronic system automatically calculates the hospital's Early Warning Score, a scoring system which we have developed from extensive statistical studies of patient data. This highlights combinations of vital-sign readings which give cause for concern. The system also enables all vital-sign data and scores to be accessed instantly by all relevant healthcare staff, wherever in the hospital they may be."

In the future, it is planned to take advantage of next-generation scores tailored to different patient groups, for example those recovering from surgery.

At present, six vital signs are measured to calculate the Early Warning Score: heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, arterial oxygen saturation ('the sats'), temperature and level of consciousness. Details of oxygen therapy and clinical concerns can also be recorded on the iPad at the same time. The system has been designed with the future in mind so that it can easily be extended to include other data, such as blood sugar levels or neurological observations.

"The system is currently being rolled out across three wards and then, with the help of the 'Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards' funding, across the whole of the Oxford University Hospitals Trust next year," says Professor Tarassenko. "We see the new system as a major step towards the 'digital ' in which all sources of patient information are interlinked and all healthcare staff are interconnected. This can only have a positive impact on ."

Explore further: Electronic prescribing in NHS hospitals patchy at best

Related Stories

Electronic prescribing in NHS hospitals patchy at best

November 22, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Patchy use of electronic prescribing in NHS hospitals – and the huge diversity of systems - creates huge challenges for both patient safety and staff training, according to a new study published today ...

New technology allows vital signs to be checked via webcam

September 20, 2012
Webcam software developed by a new Oxford University spin-out company will offer a simple, non-invasive way of monitoring patients' vital signs.

Vital sign collection based on patient risk for clinical deterioration

July 1, 2013
Nighttime frequency of vital signs monitoring for low-risk medical inpatients might be reduced, according to a research letter by Jordan C. Yoder, B.A. and colleagues at the University of Chicago.

Enhanced care program set up at six Mayo Clinic hospitals

September 18, 2013
(HealthDay)—A new program has been developed and implemented at six Mayo Clinic Health System hospitals to improve care and shorten hospital stays using remote monitoring, according to a press release issued by the Mayo ...

Most ward nurses say time pressures force them to 'ration' care

July 29, 2013
Most ward nurses say they are forced to ration care, and not do or complete certain aspects of it—including adequate monitoring of patients—because they don't have enough time, indicates research published online in BMJ ...

New innovative training to improve the care of people with dementia in general hospitals

September 11, 2013
Academics and healthcare professionals from across Greater Manchester as well as people with a diagnosis of dementia and family carers have teamed up to devise a new training programme for general hospital staff.

Recommended for you

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.