What’s the best way to monitor psychiatric inpatients? Mobile health company offers an answer

Inadequate monitoring frequently plays a role in suicides or suicide attempts among psychiatric inpatients. Falls and other injuries are also a big patient safety concern. Both of these issues highlight the need for more sophisticated tools to help monitor psychiatric inpatients. A healthcare startup has developed a mobile health “clipboard” designed to help medical staff […]

Inadequate monitoring frequently plays a role in suicides or suicide attempts among psychiatric inpatients. Falls and other injuries are also a big patient safety concern. Both of these issues highlight the need for more sophisticated tools to help monitor psychiatric inpatients. A healthcare startup has developed a mobile health “clipboard” designed to help medical staff keep a closer eye on their patients and do a better job of making observation checks every 15 minutes.

Invisalert Solutions has raised one-fifth of the $1 million it is seeking, according to a Form D filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In response to an emailed query, Peter Nagy, the founder and CEO, said it’s using the funds to complete development of its system and to do “several hospital installs.” The device works with a wristband worn by patients. It sends a signal to the iPad authorizing an observation record.

Here’s a description of the device from behavioral health philanthropy, The Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation’s website:

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[It] replaces the paper clipboard with a mini-iPad, essentially a digital clipboard, which, using HIPAA-compliant software, displays unique information about each consumer and their respective observation schedules. The system uses audio and visual cues to assist the staff observer but will not allow a 15-minute observation check to be recorded unless the staff observer and consumer are within close, line-of-sight proximity which is adjustable from 1-20 feet.

The device from the Philadelphia area company is designed to address workflow issues, particularly when there are shift changes. Miscommunication between the outgoing shift and takeover shift can mean certain tasks are left undone, and that can undermine patient safety. The company is also eyeing applications for medical hospitals, long-term care and prisons.

As of 2011, there were 37,921 psychiatric inpatient beds in general acute-care hospitals and 25,944 beds at acute psychiatric hospitals and psychiatric health facilities, according to a California Hospital Association report. It may not be a panacea for adverse events — high risk patients, for example, have committed suicide within the 15-minute intervals. But it does provide an option for hospitals that want to improve patient management practices for this patient population.

[Photo credit: Hospital corridor photo from Flickr]