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A smart bed

August 2012

Published in the August 2012 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

JAZZ SOUNDS. Prompts about pain levels in two dozen languages. A built-in Braden scale for predicting pressure-sore risk and a set of electric brakes.

No, it’s not a DJ-interpreter on wheels, but the InTouch bed, which helps ICU staff bridge language gaps with non-English speaking patients. The bed, which was introduced in 2007 by the medical technology company Stryker, features prerecorded clinical prompts and questions in 20-plus languages.

The prerecorded questions and commands fall into several categories, says Kelley Donley, RN, Stryker’s clinical development manager. They range from introductory statements and neuro assessment commands to informational statements “”I’m going to turn you on your right side” “and questions about pain.

“That helps initial discussions with a nurse and physician,” Ms. Donley says. “A bilingual family member or a translator on the phone can then have a more in-depth discussion.”

The InTouch bed also includes sound therapy, thanks to a feature that can be set to classical, jazz or nature sounds. That feature not only helps improve the overall patient experience, explains Jeff Gorton, the company’s associate director of marketing, but it can potentially help boost patient satisfaction scores.

The InTouch bed comes with a bed-exit alarm as well as systems to weigh patients and assess their risk for pressure ulcers. The bed also enables clinicians to set protocol reminders that help prevent falls and ventilator-associated pneumonia.

Bed positions, brakes and head-of-bed angles can be set on all four sides, while the low bed height helps promote patient mobility. Some models can even be linked wirelessly to a hospital’s EMR.

InTouch is now being used in hundreds of hospitals, ranging from metropolitan areas with diverse populations to critical access hospitals. According to Ms. Donley, the focus on prevention and improving clinical and financial outcomes makes a strong business case for purchasing the beds.

“When you start helping reduce pressure-ulcer and fall rates, keep your nurses’ backs stronger, and have features that help get patients up and moving sooner,” she explains, “it’s no longer just about how much the bed costs.”

More information about the InTouch bed is online.