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New smartwatch app could improve patient safety


A new smartwatch app being developed at Binghamton University may prevent serious injury for nursing home residents due to poor communication systems, researchers say.

The proposed design integrates all of the existing safety systems at nursing homes — for example, call lights, chair and bed alarms, wander guards, calling-for-help functions — and provides alerts to users.

Through a process of iterative design and evaluation with prospective users, a final design was well received by nursing experts in geriatric care, and at local nursing homes.

An on-going evaluation study shows that using this system reduces staff response time to alarms, the researchers said.

“We wanted to design a better system that improves notification and also, potentially, communication in nursing homes,” Assistant Professor Huiyang Li said.

“The improvement of notification will potentially help staff to do a better job and, eventually, improve patient safety. Whenever residents need help, they have a way to call for help, and messages will be delivered to staff in an effective way,” Li noted.

Most nursing homes use a call light system, where residents push a button inside of their room to send an alert, and bed and chair pads with pressure sensors that send an alert when a resident sits or stands up. When nurses are working down the hallway, they might not hear or see these alerts.

“With our system, we provide an informative and customised message for different alarms. The message contains the resident’s name, the type of alarm, the room number and the CNA (certified nursing assistants) who is responsible,” Li said.

“The smartwatch will be on the CNA’s wrist, so it’s accessible all the time. They can see the message, hear the alarm, and feel the vibration, whether they are working down the hallway or inside the rooms,” said Li.

A paper describing the paper was recently presented at the Human-Computer Interaction International Conference 2016 in Toronto, Canada.

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