Fewer Tumbles, Broken Bones with Virtual Sitters

Here’s a scary thought: you have less time than it takes the human eye to blink to catch yourself before a fall. As you start to fall, your brain figures out that you’re no longer steady. That activates neurons. Your eyes assess what’s going on. Your muscles react — or they don’t — and you hit the floor. All in a mere 250 to 400 milliseconds.

Patients in hospitals are particularly at risk for falls because of medical conditions, procedures, medications and weakness. But the cost of having a human sitter in the room can be prohibitive. That’s not the case with a “virtual sitter.” This sitter is an experienced caregiver who monitors patients by video. He or she can easily view 12 patient rooms at a time and intervene by:

  • Calling into the room to redirect the patient
  • Calling a staff member into the room
  • Issuing an all-call emergency alert

The initial 90-day pilot program in which CHI Health Immanuel Rehabilitation Institute partnered with Banyan Medical Systems to provide virtual sitters was a success and helped reduce patient falls. There were also fewer injuries to staff and sitter costs were dramatically reduced. This innovative way to keep patients safe eventually could be added to other CHI Health campuses.