Virtual observation isn’t just for fall prevention: 5 insights on the tech’s safety, savings opportunities

Healthcare organizations can use virtual observation in a variety of care settings — and for more than just fall prevention, according to Donna Gudmestad, BSN, RN, clinical program manager at Caregility, a clinical collaboration and communications company.

During an Aug. 13 webinar sponsored by Caregility and hosted by Becker’s Hospital Review, Ms. Gudmestad shared five things to know about virtual observation:

1. Virtual observation has many use cases. Virtual observation can be used for monitoring patients who experience agitation or confusion, have poor short-term memory or may be at risk of elopement. In addition, it can help protect staff in circumstances where family members, friends or visitors present a threat of abuse or medication diversion, or when treatment involves violent patients or prisoners. For patients at risk of harming themselves, virtual observation can provide a more affordable alternative to sitters.

2. Patient selection is key. Because virtual observers cannot physically redirect patients as quickly as a sitter can, “not all patients are good candidates for virtual observation,” Ms. Gudmestad said. Virtual observation may not be appropriate for patients who are impulsive, have significant hearing impairment or have trouble comprehending verbal direction.

“They need to be redirectable,” Ms. Gudmestad added. “If they stop being redirectable, these patients may need to be considered for a physical sitter.”

3. There are unique legal considerations. Anyone planning to use continuous virtual observation as a first-line strategy should first consult with their organization’s behavioral health specialists, regulatory leadership and legal departments. For pediatric populations in particular, there are unique legal considerations around consent and parental rights.

“It’s wise to check those things prior to implementing a virtual observation program,” Ms. Gudmestad said.

4. Missing functionality can limit use cases. At minimum, virtual observation solutions should have one-way video and two-way audio to accommodate patient redirection. Two-way video can be useful when the observer needs to escalate redirection. Additionally, it’s important for healthcare organizations to look for solutions with effective notification systems and night-vision capability.

Features that are less critical include language translation capabilities and pan/tilt/zoom functionality, which is helpful for observers in charge of physiological monitoring.

5. Virtual observation can help lower expenses. When developing a business case to introduce virtual observation, hospital and health system leaders can evaluate the potential return on investment for their organization by scheduling a 30-minute informative session with Caregility.

“There’s quite a bit of potential savings when looking at virtual observation versus physical sitters in the room,” Ms. Gudmestad said.

Click here to view a recording of the webinar.

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Virtual observation isn’t just for fall prevention: 5 insights on the tech’s safety, savings opportunities

Healthcare organizations can use virtual observation in a variety of care settings — and for more than just fall prevention, according to Donna Gudmestad, BSN, RN, clinical program manager at Caregility, a clinical collaboration and communications company.

During an Aug. 13 webinar sponsored by Caregility and hosted by Becker’s Hospital Review, Ms. Gudmestad shared five things to know about virtual observation:

1. Virtual observation has many use cases. Virtual observation can be used for monitoring patients who experience agitation or confusion, have poor short-term memory or may be at risk of elopement. In addition, it can help protect staff in circumstances where family members, friends or visitors present a threat of abuse or medication diversion, or when treatment involves violent patients or prisoners. For patients at risk of harming themselves, virtual observation can provide a more affordable alternative to sitters.

2. Patient selection is key. Because virtual observers cannot physically redirect patients as quickly as a sitter can, “not all patients are good candidates for virtual observation,” Ms. Gudmestad said. Virtual observation may not be appropriate for patients who are impulsive, have significant hearing impairment or have trouble comprehending verbal direction.

“They need to be redirectable,” Ms. Gudmestad added. “If they stop being redirectable, these patients may need to be considered for a physical sitter.”

3. There are unique legal considerations. Anyone planning to use continuous virtual observation as a first-line strategy should first consult with their organization’s behavioral health specialists, regulatory leadership and legal departments. For pediatric populations in particular, there are unique legal considerations around consent and parental rights.

“It’s wise to check those things prior to implementing a virtual observation program,” Ms. Gudmestad said.

4. Missing functionality can limit use cases. At minimum, virtual observation solutions should have one-way video and two-way audio to accommodate patient redirection. Two-way video can be useful when the observer needs to escalate redirection. Additionally, it’s important for healthcare organizations to look for solutions with effective notification systems and night-vision capability.

Features that are less critical include language translation capabilities and pan/tilt/zoom functionality, which is helpful for observers in charge of physiological monitoring.

5. Virtual observation can help lower expenses. When developing a business case to introduce virtual observation, hospital and health system leaders can evaluate the potential return on investment for their organization by scheduling a 30-minute informative session with Caregility.

“There’s quite a bit of potential savings when looking at virtual observation versus physical sitters in the room,” Ms. Gudmestad said.

Click here to view a recording of the webinar.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOPNTUtojWg


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