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Telehealth Provides Valuable Link for Multi-patient Care and Isolation Hardships

In the fight against coronavirus, telehealth platforms with computer vision and smart cameras are helping to keep healthcare workers and patients safe and isolated communities more connected.

Image credit: Cerner

The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a wave of healthcare technology designed to make patient care efficient for providers. With medical staff facing long hours and an exponentially increasing number of infected patients at hospitals and clinics, providers are using telehealth platforms to deliver virtual care and reduce the spread of infectious diseases.

Developments in computer vision, cameras, and algorithms that process 3D images allow medical staff to accurately observe multiple patients from afar. One solution integrator focused on patient monitoring technology is North Kansas City, MO-based Cerner.

An Intel partner, Cerner has built a remote health monitoring platform, the Cerner Patient Observer. The system is currently in use at several medical facilities and senior assisted care communities nationwide.

Monitoring Multiple Patients

The Cerner Patient Observer uses a handful of connected IoT technologies to gather imaging data from patient rooms. Embedded in the Cerner Patient Observer is an Intel® RealSense™ D415 camera that provides 3D scanning, depth perception, and a wide-angle view of the room. The solution continuously transmits video, which is processed using algorithms that can detect patient movement. The data can determine if the patient is at risk, for instance, for a fall. If it senses a possible fall, the system will trigger an immediate automated alert.

To maintain security and privacy, all monitoring workstations in the Cerner Patient Observer are placed in a secured location, away from public viewing areas, and only authorized personnel are allowed to enter. The video data is encrypted and secured per HIPAA guidelines.

Patient privacy can be enhanced by switching the camera system to a privacy mode that displays a line-drawing representation of the room, while still enabling the monitor attendant to visualize the room and be alerted to potential incidents to prevent a fall.

Image credit: Cerner

A staff member monitoring the device can simultaneously observe up to 12 patients using a 43” 4K UHD monitor, a 15-inch touchscreen, and a communication system to interact with individual patients as well as nurses, doctors, security, and others in the hospital.

The camera has built-in infrared that lets the monitoring technician view patients and receive alerts, even if the room is completely dark. In addition to the embedded camera, a second camera can be placed on top to provide additional telehealth or surveillance applications.

The main goal for the technology is to improve patient outcomes with automated, around-the-clock monitoring. Health providers who have the system in place are also reporting another significant benefit: cost reductions in staffing needs. John Shilaos, Solution Leader, Cerner Virtual Health noted in a recent interview that a 600-bed facility in the Northeast that uses the solution avoided $2 million from what it would have spent last year on staff solely to watch its patients.

Providing Engagement and Care for At-Risk Communities

In addition to telehealth applications inside care centers, remote monitoring solutions are also coming to the aid of older populations who are in isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Los Angeles-based Uniper-Care Technologies, a telehealth and social engagement company, provides a cross-platform service that enables older adults and at-risk individuals in isolation to connect and engage with healthcare professionals, access live and interactive health and wellness programs, and communicate with family and friends.

Social Distancing Challenges

The service is designed to help the at-risk, older adult population and healthcare systems cope with the extensive social isolation caused by coronavirus. The Uniper platform can be used at a person’s home or in an assisted living center.

Uniper sped up the development of its cross-platform service to relieve the loneliness, isolation, and anxiety that results from social distancing. The Uniper communication service and its connectivity apps are available through the Uniper TV kit/connection box and as a web service.

The Uniper remote connection service can be accessed via any television, tablet, mobile device, desktop, or laptop. Healthcare delivery systems, facilities, insurance payers, and other healthcare and senior care providers can sign up to partner with Uniper and offer the accessible service to their members or clients.

Uniper’s connected platform provides seniors with:

  • Daily live and interactive community activities;

  • Recorded health and wellness programs;

  • Remote access to telecare with doctors and other healthcare professionals;

  • The ability to play games with other subscribers;

  • Connectivity for real-time video sessions with family.

“Many more people are now suffering from low social determinants of health because of the necessary safety measures that coronavirus has dictated,” says Avi Price, co-Founder and COO of Uniper, in a recent statement.

“Our goal is to provide a sustainable solution for our health partners and our older adult, at-risk and isolated community members. We want to help our health partners keep their members physically, mentally, and socially healthy by connecting them to family, community members, and healthcare professionals.”


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