One Person Safely Monitors 12 Patients, Thanks to TeleSitter

Published in Insight - January/February 2019 Insight
When a patient in the hospital requires 24/7 monitoring — due to a risk of falling, for example — someone must continually stay in the patient’s room to ensure the patient’s safety. The need for this type of service has been rising at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center because of the number of patients with a psychiatric condition or addiction, says Andy Magalee, director of nursing at the medical center. To address the demand, the hospital adopted remote video monitoring technology to create the TeleSitter program.
The TeleSitter program, part of the Office of Johns Hopkins Telemedicine, enables one clinical technician to monitor a dozen patients simultaneously. Portable camera units mounted on rolling IV-like poles provide live video and auditory feeds from the patients’ rooms to a central monitoring screen, where a clinical technician can watch all the monitored patients at once.  
If the patient attempts to get out of bed, the clinical technician can communicate with the patient using a two-way speaker on the camera to ask the patient to wait for a nurse to arrive.
“During a small, six-week pilot test of the TeleSitter program, there were no falls with injuries,” says Ronald Langlotz, director of nursing at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. 
To ensure a patient is a good candidate for the TeleSitter program, a patient sitter stays in the room for the first two hours of monitoring. If the patient’s nurse finds no reason for the sitter to remain in the room — such as the patient pulling at the lines connected to him or her, for example — then the sitter leaves and the patient is monitored remotely. 
Between July 2017 and June 2018, Johns Hopkins Bayview saved more than $1 million through the use of technology and clinical technicians. In addition to Johns Hopkins Bayview and The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Howard County General Hospital has also implemented the TeleSitter program.
“The success in the program is the people behind the camera,” says Langlotz. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the clinical technicians. They really own it.”