As technology has become more and more entrenched in the medical world, virtual sitters have become a go-to solution for hospitals trying to reduce falls without the cost of in-person sitters. virtual sitters use live video feed from hospital rooms to watch several patients at once, usually 12-16 patients per sitter, but sometimes up to 57. But is this still the most cost-effective way to maintain patient safety?
In today’s new world of artificial intelligence (AI), there are more tailored solutions than just camera feeds. In fact, AI-powered fall prevention is a game-changer in hospitals due to its low cost and high precision. AI offers around-the-clock monitoring that leverages the team onsite to truly prevent falls from happening. Virtual sitters become go-betweens with site staff when speed is vital to stopping falls.
But how exactly does AI stack up against virtual sitters?
Virtual sitting services use real people to watch patients which can have positive and negative impacts for patient care. On the positive side, people have a human touch that machines may lack. However, virtual sitters must always split their attention between several patients during a shift. Normal human experiences like boredom, distraction, stress, and daydreaming can cause delays in getting help to a patient. And if one patient is an especially high-risk, other patients might get less attention.
AI, on the other hand, provides a one-to-one monitoring experience closer to in-room sitters. AI technology is particularly suited to repetitive, repeatable tasks just like fall monitoring. Where a human might experience focus fatigue or restlessness later in their shift, AI is consistent and precise around the clock. On top of that, alerting with AI systems triggers the moment a potential fall occurs—eliminating vital decision-making seconds that could mean staff are too late.
AI allows patients to maintain their privacy without risking their health. For virtual sitting to work, there must be cameras streaming video of patients to a third party. Patients often don’t know who’s on the other end or even where that person is located. This can make patients feel more vulnerable and powerless during their care.
AI sensors never use cameras or stream video, so patients don't feel they’re being watched. The sensors don’t send patient data outside the site’s network either, reducing demand on IT infrastructure when compared to virtual sitting needs. Using infrared sensors anonymizes patient data for increased data protection as well.
One of the largest factors for organizations switching to a virtual sitting service over in-person sitters is cost. Of course, the costs associated with in-person sitters can be extremely high purely due to the volume of sitters needed and their training. Ziprecruiter reports that the wage of an in-person sitter in the U.S. falls between $15-$19 per hour. Virtual sitting reduces costs by allowing one sitter to monitor several patients at once, significantly reducing the cost of labor for the same amount of coverage. But how does AI compare when it comes to cost?
AI fall prevention integrates with a hospital's onsite team, fundamentally removing the need for sitters and their labor cost. Unit staff like nurses and CNAs know exactly what to do to avoid a fall—if they know it's going to happen. AI provides that key proactive information, so staff can be there without spending valuable time watching for signs. AI fall prevention gives the right information to the right person at exactly the right time and can do so at a fraction of the cost of virtual sitters.
AI is creating tools that increase patient safety and decrease costs for hospitals across the country. Fall prevention is one area where artificial intelligence is perfectly suited to simplify and streamline patient care while removing busy work for overloaded teams. VirtuSense’s AI fall prevention solutions are already empowering acute care teams to protect patients by reducing falls by 85%, without increasing staffing costs.