May 7, 2010

Tool lets clinicians monitor patients via cell phone

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The new VigiVU app lets clinicians check on patients from their mobile devices.

Tool lets clinicians monitor patients via cell phone

A new Vanderbilt University Medical Center application for mobile devices allows anesthesiologists and other clinicians to monitor patients, check vital signs, communicate with other providers, and literally peer into operating rooms during surgeries all from the convenience of their cell phones.

VigiVU, created for the iPhone by the VUMC Department of Anesthesiology, expands on an in-house desktop program called Vigilance to make the technology more portable and efficient.

It keeps the clinician “in touch” when care locations are multiple and separate, with the ability to monitor up to four patients simultaneously.

“It brings the functions of our desktop computer programs onto the mobile device. So, yes, 'There's an app for that, too,'” said Brian Rothman, associate director of Perioperative Informatics.

Rothman said the app enhances proactive decision-making, makes communication between team personnel more efficient, and can improve patient care through perioperative situational awareness, collecting data from multiple sources including room video, monitors, labs, and medical records.

Medical supervisors in charge of multiple rooms previously had to visit each room to check on patients, review histories and vitals trends or use Vigilance on a desktop computer. Simultaneous monitoring is now accomplished by mobile staff using the iPhone.

With the iPhone app, communication between clinicians during urgent situations is no longer reliant on outdated paging systems with delays; a finger tap allows VigiVU users to text staff signed into a specific case.

“Why are we disconnected from our patients when current technology can bring them to us?” Rothman asked. “When we supervise, shouldn't we know about changes and events with our patients as they happen? Why can't we communicate with our staff immediately to start correcting the issue, either from another room or while we are on our way? With this app, we are connected and can be even more proactive in our response to events.”