Beaverton medical manufacturer’s wireless device saves precious time

Sue Vorenberg, Portland Business Journal

A minute and 16 seconds may not sound like a lot of time, but for nurses who often have high patient loads, every second matters.

Portland’s Marquis Vermont Hills acute care center recently completed a white paper with Welch Allyn Connex, a medical technology company, that looked into how much time an automated vital signs monitoring system can save nurses and doctors. The year-long study found the technology can save 76 seconds per patient, while also increasing the accuracy of the data collected.

“The device takes pulse rates, blood pressure, temperature and other readings, and it’s integrated to our electronic health records through bluetooth technology,” said April Diaz, director of clinical services at Marquis. “It’s seamless, it’s automated and it can do multiple vitals at once. It’s much faster than the traditional method.”

Normally, nurses manually take each patient’s pulse, temperature and other vitals, write them down and then type them into a computer. The automated system, on the other hand, records all the information at the same time and then sends it wirelessly to the facility’s network.

The study found that traditional vital signs collection methods take about 188 seconds per patient, whereas the automated technology took only 112 seconds.

But the system’s usefulness goes beyond that.

“It’s not only the time but the accuracy that’s important,” Diaz said. “This removes the human factor in transcribing and reduces errors dramatically.”

It’s not uncommon for people to transpose numbers or letters when writing things down manually. But in a blood pressure reading — where normal is 118/80 — flipping numbers accidentally to 181/80 can be a major issue, said Garrison Gomez, senior director of vital signs and cardiology with Welch Allyn.

“If you were to flip those, you’d either end up giving a person medication they don’t need, or, if it flipped the other way, you’d end up not giving medication that the patient needed,” Gomez said. “This system takes that problem out of the equation.”

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