Technology & the Pandemic: How New Findings Become the Future

In March of 2020 (and earlier in some places), life as we knew it ground to a halt. Public spaces emptied, kids and employees went home from schools and offices – and we sheltered in place. Headlines like “The Great Empty,” and “Remember the Office?” captured the anxious and fearful void left in the wake of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And then technology stepped in.

Social media lit up with professional artists’ tributes to healthcare workers, as well as the simplistically beautiful musical gatherings on balconies across European cities. School districts embraced Zoom to connect students and teachers, and then to create an actual learning platform. Physicians used Skype and telehealth platforms such as Teledoc and MDLIVE to reach patients who were sheltering at home. And the Zoom happy hour was born, after a workday filled with Zoom meetings.

Because of our need to connect with one another, we took technology that was already in existence and plied it into the forms we needed. To continue working. To continue learning. To continue caring for each other. To be together.

New Communication Pathways

On our Vital Insights podcast series this week, Avner Halperin, founder of EarlySense and CEO of EyeControl, discussed the way EyeControl technology – which was created to help people with locked-in conditions communicate with loved ones and care providers – was used with COVID-19 patients who needed to be intubated.

“The ability to communicate after intubation was critically important for several reasons,” said Avner. “It was immensely meaningful for COVID patients and their loved ones to be able to connect, but we also found from data generated by those cases that the ability to communicate actually improved overall patient outcomes.”

Expanded Technology Usage for Improved Care

Other hospitals expanded the existing use of monitoring technology, to better care for COVID-19 patients, while also protecting staff from the possibility of infection.  

At Franciscus Gasthuis & Vlietland, a leading hospital in the Netherlands, EarlySense sensors were installed into its expanded pulmonary department to continuously monitor COVID-19 patients. This application followed on the heels of the successful use of the same sensors to care for COVID-19 patients at Sheba Hospital in Israel, as well as installations in more than 40,000 patient beds across global healthcare facilities.

The EarlySense technology offered singular advantages to healthcare providers during the pandemic: the company’s contact-free, continuous monitoring system tracks respiratory rate, heart rate and movement – without ever touching the patient. The sensor, placed under the patient’s mattress, transmits real-time patient data to a display outside of the patient’s room, limiting the need for staff to gown up and enter isolation areas. 

Evolving Virtual Care, for a Post-pandemic Healthcare Model

At EarlySense, researchers recently published the results of a study to assess how the company’s Early Warning Scores (EWS) could detect signs of deterioration among COVID-19 patients, to allow for more timely intervention and care.

It proved to be highly effective.

Using its machine learning EWS model, analysts were able to identify early deterioration among COVID-19 patients, with powerful results: The model first detected deterioration 13 hours before an emergency event. This alignment with successful predictive analytics means that as we move into the future, we can anticipate similar levels of increased care optimization using the same model in other acute settings.

“Contact-free continuous monitoring is, by nature, uniquely suited to care for COVID-19 patients,” said Matt Johnson, CEO of EarlySense. “However, its value extends even further as we look toward the future of patient care.”