Hospitals investing in clinical surveillance tools, but remain skeptical of vendor claims

Spyglass survey uncovers varying degrees of understanding which tools can be used for early warning and predictive indicators to prevent adverse health events.
By Bernie Monegain
12:50 PM
clinical surveillance tools

Hospital leaders said clinical surveillance technology is essential to effectively monitoring high-risk patients, according to a new survey conducted by Menlo Park, California-based Spyglass Consulting Group. At the same time, however, respondents also indicated that they are wary of claims made by technology vendors, particularly those with black box solutions. 

The researchers found that health systems are investing in clinical surveillance technology to help doctors, nurses and other care team members better monitor patients susceptible to worsening or life-threatening conditions. Among tools hospitals and health systems are adopting to better monitor high-risk patients are: Extending EHR’s capabilities; providing real-time access to clinical and non-clinical data from multiple data sources across the organization; customizing algorithms to hospital-based protocols, and employing data analytics capable of detecting a wide range of patient deteriorating conditions.

Surveillance technology is being implemented throughout hospitals, the survey found. It includes emergency and operating rooms, post-anesthesia care, intensive care, medical/surgical, and telemetry units.

Caretakers are on alert for early warning and predictive indicators so they can respond quickly to deteriorating patient conditions, Spyglass found. They want to prevent adverse conditions that would elevate risk, such as patient transfers from general care to the ICU and intubations, which would increase the length of stay and cost.

Spyglass also found that the hospitals it surveyed have varying levels of understanding about clinical surveillance and analytics. They want education about next-generation tools and need to know how to put them to work to improve patient safety and boost care quality and outcomes.

Participants indicated they are skeptical about vendor claims related to early detection and predictive warnings for patients considered at-risk of deteriorating conditions.

Hospital leaders want vendors to support their technology performance with published peer-reviewed articles based on hospital data -- and they said vendors should review and change their algorithms to fit the needs of specific customers.

“Vendors with fixed one-size-fits-all algorithms will be forced to expose what is in their ‘black-box,’” Spyglass said.

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