Landmark Hospitals Pilots Wireless E-paper Patient Monitor

The information displays, designed for use at patient room entrances and bedsides, are the result of a partnership between E Ink and Digital Connected Intelligent Health Technology, and use a Wi-Fi connection to capture and display the latest vital statistics without the glare from LCD lights.
Published: September 16, 2019

Landmark Hospitals reports that it is the first health-care provider to adopt a wireless electronic paper-based digital solution from a newly formed partnership between two technology companies. The system, provided by E Ink and Digital Connected Intelligent Health Technology (DCI), provides an electronic-ink display that enables medical personnel to share and update vital information about a patient. The solution is intended to enable the easy recording and sharing of a patient’s most important data wirelessly, with devices that won’t emit the glare of an LCD light, which can disturb patients.

With the solution, medical employees can update patient information in electronic medical records (EMRs) and forward key details to the e-paper displays mounted at a patient’s bedside or room entrance, via a Wi-Fi connection. The system has been launched initially at one unit in its hospital in Naples, Fla., while the long-term plan is to expand to more units at multiple facilities.

Landmark Hospitals

E Ink provides the electronic ink display technology that health-care solutions company DCI builds into patient information displays (PIDs) and room information displays (RIDs). DCI’s management software captures and forwards data, enabling the devices to display relevant patient information from a hospital’s medical records software. Hospitals generally use a variety of manual signage to provide visual information to health-care providers regarding each patient in a given room, as well as the care he or she has received. That can mean manually written whiteboards, for instance. However, says Charlie Alvarez, DCI’s CEO, these are often illegible.

Outside the room, the written reports are typically paper-based, difficult to read and inaccurate, due to the labor-intensive process involved in handwriting information and instructions. Different nursing units also have their own types of signage in place, dependent on the patients for whom they care. Inside a room, signage is typically in the form of a whiteboard, which can be inaccurate or difficult to read.

There are some digital displays available on the market, Alvarez says, but they have shortcomings as well. The incorporation of the E Ink low-power display and EMR integration makes for a simple clinician and patient experience, he explains, noting that the devices are easy to read but do not shine. “The E Ink displays are preferred over LCD displays,” he states, “due to the lack of glare, which enables a better environment for sleeping.”

Landmark operates six hospitals across the United States. Each facility has traditionally displayed data on a whiteboard, such as a patient’s diet and activity, as well as the staff members caring for that person. Otherwise, the information was often not displayed at all, explains Sara LaPorte, Landmark’s VP of orthopedics and surgical services.

DCI’s Charlie Alvarez

In the case of a whiteboard, the information is only as up-to-date as the last time a practitioner manually wrote down specific data. If no information is provided, on the other hand, practitioners must take time to look it up in a patient’s chart or EMR. They may even need to search for nurse-assignment records to determine which nurse is taking care of that patient, then contact him or her.

The hospital investigated several solutions, LaPorte says, “Everything we looked at required additional steps or time,” however, so management opted to deploy a solution that could free up personnel by synchronizing the information automatically from the EMR software.

E Ink spun off from MIT Media Lab in 1997 with its first e-paper technology. The company makes display products globally for brands and manufacturers. In 2009, the firm was acquired by Taiwan’s Prime View International, whose products include e-readers, electronic shelf labels, e-notes, e-paper mobile devices and digital signage.

DCI already offered displays that are employed by clinicians, doctors, patients, and their family members and friends, Alvarez says. Physicians can view the displays outside of patients’ rooms in order to remember which patients they are caring for, as well as read notes regarding a patient’s preferences and precautions (for example, a request that staff members knock before entering). Clinicians can use the display inside the room to improve patient engagement, since they have immediate access to patient and treatment information at the bedside. Now, with the E Ink partnership, the displays lack the bright lights of the LCD versions.

Landmark’s Sara LaPorte

The RIDs are typically mounted outside rooms to allow family members and practitioners to know who is caring for a patient in a specific room, LaPorte explains. Information such as the patient having a high fall risk, or being hard of hearing, can be displayed on the RID. The display outside each room enables information to be viewed before an individual enters, thereby offering precaution, for instance, if there is a risk of infection that might require visitors to wear appropriate personal protective equipment.

The PIDs, mounted inside the rooms, provide hospital personnel with the information they require, including a patient’s name, a “do not resuscitate” status, any allergies or dietary requirements, that person’s diagnosis and any procedures that may have been done, LaPorte says, “without having to find the nurse caring for the patient.”

In May of this year, Landmark installed 10 units in one patient-care area. When a patient is assigned to the room where the unit is installed, the DCI software captures his or her vital statistics from the EMR system, then utilizes a Wi-Fi connection to transmit that data to the unit. The unit’s built-in Wi-Fi radio captures that data, then displays the details. The technology uses the hospital’s existing Wi-Fi network, while the software resides on Landmark’s server. Users can access the software to update the data at any time.

Landmark Hospitals plans to begin expanding the system by adding more units. In the meantime, DCI is in the process of deploying this technology at other hospitals. Based on the initial unit deployment, LaPorte says, the technology is proving to boost efficiency. The solution, she adds, “saves management money by not needing nurses to spend time handwriting whiteboards where it may be hard to understand or misinterpreted, not up-to-date, or just not done.” Since it saves providers time, LaPorte explains, the technology enables them to have more face-time with patients, “instead of toting the computer or a chart with them to be updating the whiteboards.”

Ancillary providers, such as attending physicians, physical therapists or members of the clergy, can also see who is taking care of a given patient, then look for that staff member if they need to talk. “Patients like it,” LaPorte says, “because it is a built-in safety net with their information that is updated automatically or can be push-updated with the touch of a button.” What’s more, she adds, families appreciate knowing who their loved ones’ nurses and doctors are as soon as they are admitted into a room.

In the long term, Landmark Hospitals is looking into expanding the solution to other units of its facility. The technology could provide time savings for health-care providers, the company reports, as well as a safety benefit by preventing errors.