Leaf Healthcare: Automated Patient Mobility Monitoring

 Barrett Larson, CEO and Co-founder
For millennia, the concept of bed rest has been ingrained into the fabric of nursing culture. Historically, there has been a pervasive belief that patients recuperate faster if they don’t move or physically exert themselves during an acute illness. In recent years, it has been proven that early and progressive mobility actually helps speed recovery and prevent complications. Even patients who are challenged by age or mental acuity will recuperate more quickly if nurses adopt turning, mobility, and patient ambulation protocols. These protocols are designed to ensure that patients are moving frequently and safely throughout their hospitalization. However, the current systems for monitoring patient mobility are composed of largely manual processes that are inefficient and unreliable. Leaf Healthcare has developed a patient monitoring platform that intelligently coordinates patient mobility protocols. Leaf’s monitoring system improves nursing workflow and helps ensure that all patients meet their prescribed mobility goals. “With the Leaf Patient Monitoring System, patients can now be continuously monitored throughout their hospitalization so that mobility interventions can be more efficiently and effectively targeted,” said Barrett Larson, MD, Co-founder and CEO, Leaf Healthcare.

Leaf Healthcare has developed an easy to implement system to monitor patient mobility via wearable technology that captures motion data wirelessly from a patient. The system uses a disposable, single-use patient sensor that attaches to a patient much like an EKG electrode. The intelligent Leaf sensor immediately knows it is monitoring a real human and instantly connects wirelessly to any Leaf relay antenna that is within its proximity. Data regarding all the movements, positions and activities of the patient is transmitted to a server through the 802.15.4 mesh network of proprietary relay antennas installed in the healthcare facility. The antennas easily plug into any available electrical outlet and the antenna relays the data to a central server that can be located anywhere—in the hospital or virtually.

Wearable technology will allow us to reduce healthcare costs by enabling more effective and efficient care

The nursing staff can access a dashboard and view the Leaf data of all monitored patients at a glance.

Leaf’s mission is to reduce the 3.6 percent of patients—or approximately 2.5 million—who suffer from pressure injuries each year in the U.S. and account for $11 billion in excess healthcare spending. “We now know that pressure injuries and other complications related to patient immobility can largely be prevented by improving patient mobility.” The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have, in fact, deemed pressure injuries to be “never events”, meaning these events should never occur if proper preventative measures are taken. One of the most important preventative measures is frequent patient turning. However, compliance with prescribed patient turning protocols has historically been low given the lack of technology to help monitor and intelligently coordinate the process. Hospitals who have implemented the Leaf Monitoring System have dramatically increased their compliance with mobility protocols and reduced their rates of pressure injuries. In addition to increasing adherence to mobility protocols, the Leaf system improves caregiver efficiency by automatically documenting all mobility events, including unwitnessed activities that would otherwise not be documented. By constantly monitoring patients and automatically documenting every mobility event, the Leaf system can help staff focus their attention on patients that need it most, while also ensuring that nobody slips through the cracks.

Leaf is now expanding their monitoring platform to more broadly coordinate care throughout the mobility continuum. Per Larson, “We are entering an interesting phase in healthcare where we can now leverage the power of wearable technology in new and exciting ways to improve the care of hospitalized patients. Wearable technology will allow us to reduce healthcare costs by enabling more effective and efficient care.”