With the landscape of healthcare in a flux with talks of reform, one thing is certain, and that's the continued growing presence of wireless hand-held patient monitoring in hospitals and health institutions.

On Wednesday, media and investors took part in a nearly hour long discussion with Welch Allyn (Skaneateles Falls, New York) regarding the impact of wireless hand-held patient monitoring and what role the company would play in its future.

"Mobile [technologies] are going to get more formidable as healthcare reform plays out over the next few years," Liz Boehm, Principle analyst at Forrester Research (Cambridge, Massachusetts) told the audience.

She said the landscape would have an array of information systems which would present a unique challenge to mobile healthcare providers.

"The more we put information into systems, the more we need to think about getting the information out of these systems and into the hands of clinicians," she said.

Emilie Bonney, an RN ICU Coordinator at St. Charles Medical Center (Bend, Oregon), summed it up best when describing the plight of clinicians and hospitals in regards to their technological challenges.

"We want to give excellent care but are unable to give the best," Bonney told the audience.

She added that part of the problem is getting critical patient information and reacting to it in a timely fashion. The whole intercom, telephone standard is antiquated and severely hinders clinicians from "giving the best care," Bonney said.

Welch Allyn touted wireless patient monitoring as the wave of the future and said that its applications are perhaps the best solution to a better patient experience.

The diagnostics-focused-company pushed its AcuityLink Clinician Notifier, as being one of the technologies that would be at the forefront of healthcare reform initiatives.

The company first unveiled the application at the National Teaching Institute and Critical Care Exposition in Atlanta (Medical Device Daily, May 29, 2007).

"Healthcare providers often feel like they need to be in two places at once in order to do their jobs effectively," said Will Fox, group product director, Welch Allyn Monitoring. "The AcuityLink Clinician Notifier puts the power of central monitoring directly into the nurses' hands. By seamlessly integrating into an existing hospital network, it lets providers monitor multiple patients from anywhere their job takes them – giving them more visibility to their patients and, most importantly, more control over their care and safety."

"The AcuityLink Clinician Notifier is a perfect addition to the Welch Allyn monitoring family and any hospital that cares about maximizing caregiver time with patients and ensuring patient safety," Fox added. "All patient data is stored on the Welch Allyn Connectivity Server, so it is transferred to the hand-held device quickly. It is designed to ensure that patient information can only be accessed by designated clinicians – protecting sensitive data, improving outcomes and reducing transcription errors. Ultimately, the biggest benefit to having the AcuityLink Clinician Notifier is that it breaks down the boundaries between the provider, the information they want, and when they want it."

The application is software-based and has a three-tiered alarm escalation system that sends alarms to the primary caregiver and then will automatically escalate to a secondary clinician if the alarm persists and then to all clinicians on the network if necessary.

It also provides audible and visual warnings if the user travels outside the wireless network coverage area, as well as distinct alarm tones for high-level and lethal arrhythmias as well as other vital sign parameter alarms. Additionally, when used on a PDA with barcode scanning capabilities, patients can be admitted to the Central Station without requiring anyone to type any patient information.

Part of the appeal of the application is that it fits three key criteria of the Joint Commission's 2009 National Patient Safety Goals which are, improving recognition and response to patient condition changes; improving effectiveness of communication between caregivers; and accurate patient identification.

"When you look at the issues the Clinician notifier addresses, they all seem to be what the healthcare reform movement is addressing," Bill Quatere Product Manager for Welch Allyn said. "This is targeted directly at the heart of healthcare reform."