Towards remote patient monitoring

The global COVID-19 pandemic triggered dramatic changes in hospitals’ working practices, especially strategies for treating and caring for high risk patients. In response, hospitals are increasingly using digital imaging platforms that integrate with hospital networks, enabling staff to monitor multiple patients remotely.

Hospital staff looking at a live video of a patient on a desktop monitor

Optimising critical care strategies

The global coronavirus crisis saw even the best-equipped hospitals facing unprecedented challenges. The critical care needs of high-risk patients stretched hospital infrastructures to the limit, with ventilators, vital signs monitors and other essential equipment in short supply. Consultants and nursing teams faced the dual challenges of dealing with increased patient numbers while adopting working practices that minimise infection risks between patients and staff.

View inside a hospital critical care unit
Woman wearing scrub sitting at a desk looking at a monitor showing live video of a patient

Fingertip access to real-time medical information

Remote monitoring opens up new opportunities for clinical teams to assess patients’ condition without the need to be physically present in the same room at all times.

Advances in digital technology have made it feasible to stream High Definition video – captured by remotely controlled cameras in the care ward – securely across hospitals’ standard IT networks, in real time.

Combined with solutions that can stream patient information and video from other equipment, this allows nursing staff to assess the condition of high risk patient via a networked PC, tablet device or dedicated display from anywhere on the hospital campus.

Remote monitoring: how it works

Remote monitoring solutions typically feature one or more cameras, capturing round-the-clock video of high-risk patients in either the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or a temporarily re-purposed Operating Room (OR) space. In this environment a remotely-operated camera offers obvious benefits, with no need for the physical presence of a human operator to adjust the camera’s field of view and other settings. Staff can view both the patient and their health-related information in the room remotely.

Even without dedicated video cabling being installed, solutions such as Sony’s NUCLeUS™ system, paired with Sony’s 4K PTZ cameras SRG-X120 and SRG-X400, can carry digitised video plus audio and other signals over an IP network. In a nurse’s office – or anywhere else on the hospital site – this video stream can be viewed via a browser on an authorised PC and iPad or on a large-screen display.

A patient in an ICU ward
Doctor looking at a tablet device

Supplementing traditional care skills

Video monitoring is not intended to replace the expert skills of the nursing staff. What it can provide, however, is an opportunity for nurses to extend quality care to a larger number of patients. Equally, ease of use is a key requirement of remote monitoring solutions in critical care environments where the focus remains on the patient at all times. Remote monitoring doesn’t impose any additional tasks on nursing staff: the system is effectively ‘transparent’ from the user’s perspective, with no need to operate complex additional equipment or require additional cabling.

Assuring patient security

Any monitoring solution that involves the sharing of video and confidential patient information over IT networks raises obvious concerns about data security and confidentiality. Dedicated systems such as NUCLeUS address this directly, demonstrating the best industry practices with powerful encryption to safeguard streaming video and other data against unwanted viewing or interception.

Illustrative image of patient security showing hands typing on a keyboard
A senior doctor at her desk

Easing staff workload challenges

The introduction of remote patient monitoring allows hospitals to manage clinical teams’ busy workloads more efficiently. One staff member can assess several patients by video, with less time spent walking between beds on a large ward, or covering several different wards on their rounds.

Just as importantly, reduction in physical contact time between clinicians and patients can significantly reduce infection risks and the constant need for staff to don and doff Personal Protective Equipment that may be in limited supply.

Extending remote monitoring beyond the OR and ICU

The applications of video-based remote patient monitoring extend beyond the immediate needs of the COVID-19 crisis. It is equally relevant in environments such as elderly care wards, where a single member of nursing staff is typically responsible for the care of a large number of patients.

Woman wearing hospital scrub sitting at a desk multiple monitors

Explore our smart digital imaging solution for hospitals

Discover NUCLeUSTM, the imaging platform that allows you to manage and distribute video signals, still images as well as patient data from connected modalities – across an entire hospital network.

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Two doctors looking at an annotated surgical image streamed to a desktop monitor via the NUCleUS platform