Preventing patient falls using an anonymous monitoring system
Preventing patient falls using an anonymous monitoring system
Interview with David Meier, COO and Co-Founder, QUMEA AG
Falls are one of the most common causes of patient injury in both hospital and nursing home settings. Without technical assistance, falls are difficult to predict and prevent. But even if care facilities use technology, it tends to be based on outdated approaches.
In this MEDICA.de interview, David Meier explains how QUMEA's radar technology provides a unique solution for anonymous patient monitoring and reveals why the Swiss healthtech startup is participating in this year's MEDICA START-UP PARK.
Mr. Meier, what is QUMEA?
David Meier: QUMEA is a mobility monitoring tool that employs state-of-the-art technology to make easier to deliver effective care. Anonymous 3D radar technology monitors vulnerable patients and residents to alert healthcare staff about a patient's mobility status. This provides an early warning system when patients attempt to leave their beds unassisted, ensuring the patient receives assistance before he/she has left the bed. This method delivers effective fall prevention. QUMEA also measures and records the activity of patients and residents, thus supporting behavior analysis and validating therapy decisions.
How does activity monitoring support therapy decisions?
Meier: Our activity curve allows caregivers to retrospectively track the patient's or resident's sleep habits. It indicates whether the patient slept well, whether he/she responded well following the previous evening's therapy and whether sufficient pain relief was administered. QUMEA is also used in nursing homes where this mechanism also helps monitor the dosing of sleep medications.
How does the system work?
Meier: The system consists of three simple components: the sensor, the QUMEA Cloud and the QUMEA app. The sensor is mounted on the ceiling and detects the slightest changes in movement. The raw data is sent to our proprietary Cloud, which subsequently makes AI-based action recommendations. Users are alerted via sounds and imagery thanks to our intuitive mobile app. QUMEA tells caregivers whether patients attempt to sit up, experience restlessness, bed exits or falls. If patients who are at risk of falls wake up, sit up or stand up, the system alerts the nursing staff immediately. This reduces the risk of falling and fall-related injuries – without restraining or preventing the patients from moving.
QUMEA's goal is to have caregivers at patients' bedsides before they could sit up and thus leave the bed.
The gold standard of fall prevention is the so-called floor mat. The mat is placed in front of the bed and sounds the alarm if the patient steps on it. The problem with this is that once the patient already stands on the floor, he/she is at a higher risk for a fall, meaning it is essentially too late to prevent a fall. Since QUMEA detects the intent to exit the bed much earlier – if the patient sits up, for example – it gives caregivers the time to get to the patient before he/she is at risk of falling.
What is the problem you address in this setting?
Meier: Falls are especially problematic in healthcare settings. Each year, 60,000 patients fall in Swiss hospitals, and each fall costs society and the healthcare system a lot of money. But most importantly, the QUMEA system provides much needed relief for nursing staff. Not just since the onset of COVID-19 have caregivers been faced with unrelenting stress in their jobs. We want to give the nursing staff a digital tool that helps them monitor patients effectively and on an individual basis.
How did you come up with the idea?
Meier: Oddly enough, we started out with the technology and then we identified the right problem to solve with it. The idea came to us because we all share an enthusiasm for the latest technology and the commitment to use it to improve the health of all people. We are perpetually fascinated by the possibilities of modern radar technology, especially as it pertains to remote vital sign monitoring. Our contacts in medical and nursing professions alerted us to the lack of innovation in fall prevention and monitoring of patients at risk for falls. Traditional monitoring systems include outdated fall mats or systems that rely on camera-based technology, which raises many data protection issues in addition to not being very accurate. We collaborated with a university hospital to develop a system that was allowed to reach maturity in practical application and has subsequently become indispensable.
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Meier: The system is currently implemented in twelve establishments in Switzerland, and we are charting the course for further growth. The spectrum runs the gamut from departments specializing in the management and treatment of delirium and psychiatric clinics to conventional care centers. Apart from the domestic market, we are also running tests in Australia and Spain. Our focus will be fully on Germany in 2022. We are already building business partnerships with established companies to pursue a co-marketing strategy.
What feedback have you received from the establishments?
Meier: We received very positive feedback. Our system adds enormous value by preventing falls, improving patient safety, and increasing company efficiency. QUMEA is designed to be the caregiver's best friend and relieve caregiver burden, which is why we trust in building close relationships with customers and partners. Our goal is to learn from those fighting in the trenches to continually improve the system to meet their needs.
A sensor and an app – that's all users need to integrate QUMEA into their everyday care.
What do the facilities need for a successful implementation?
Meier: The sensor is permanently installed in the hospital or nursing home room and uses WiFi to communicate with our Cloud. The device is powered by PoE. QUMEA or our Cloud, respectively, does the rest. It analyzes the data and sends the pertinent information to the app, which is available for iOS and Android.
Why are you taking part in the MEDICA Trade Fair?
Meier: As I mentioned earlier, our company is on growth trajectory, which also means internationalization. The chance to personally interact and connect with potential customers, partners, and other drivers of innovation from across the globe is important to us. As the world's largest medical trade fair, MEDICA is the perfect fit to achieve our goals.
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