North Shore-LIJ Takes Lead in Video Monitoring

Long Island Business News
June 10, 2013
North Shore-LIJ Takes Lead in Video Monitoring

The North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System plans to significantly expand the use of video cameras to monitor handwashing and other operating-room procedures.

The surveillance program, rolled out at the system’s Forest Hills hospital in March, comes as the health-care giant faces a government crackdown on hospital re-admissions, often due to infection, and seeks to boost its high-profit surgical business.

North Shore-LIJ’s monitoring program is operated by Arrowsight, a Mt. Kisco firm that once focused on fast food and meat processing clients before cashing in on health care’s growing need for sanitation oversight.

“There are bigger problems in the health-care industry than in the food-manufacturing industry from the standpoint of sanitation practices,” said Adam Aronson, Arrowsight’s CEO.

Indeed, nearly 100,000 people die annually from infections incurred in hospitals, with sanitation as a key culprit.

Arrowsight was initially called in to monitor the intensive care unit at Forest Hills, where, despite concerted educational programs, handwashing remained a problem.

Arrowsight’s initial report: Handwashing rates were below 10 percent, rather than the 60 percent North Shore-LIJ officials feared.

“Even though on the face of it, you’d think you have to wash your hands after every encounter, the results showed, at least initially, it wasn’t being done,” system spokesman Terry Lynam said.

The surveillance firm did not initially report its findings to the staff, but found that simply installing cameras wasn’t enough to change behaviors.

“If you don’t give real time feedback, within a short while, people revert to whatever they were doing,” Aronson said. “They don’t take it seriously.”

Arrowsight then began streaming scores – without names – on wall-mounted digital scoreboards, which quickly pushed compliance above 85 percent.

“Within four weeks of turning those boards on, rates went from below 10 percent to almost 90 percent,” Aronson said. “Cameras are a highly effective way to get groups of people to behave as they are supposed to behave. Human psychology lends itself to people not wanting to stand out.”

Video monitoring isn’t cheap. Aronson charges as much as $4,000 per month to monitor a single ICU, using analysts in Kentucky and India. But hospitals can often realize significant returns by analyzing footage for operational efficiencies.

“There’s a lot of financial stress on the health care system, especially at the hospital level,” Aronson said. “If you look where the majority of revenue comes from for hospitals, it’s the surgery department. We’ve seen significant improvements.”

Although video monitoring is in use at other U.S. hospitals, not all local medical officials embrace its use. Dr. Patrick O’Shaughnessy, chief medical officer for rival Catholic Health Services of Long Island is decidedly in that camp.

“While this technology may help, it’s not a requirement for a safe OR environment,” O’Shaughnessy said.

North Shore-LIJ, however, is pleased with the program – it’s called remote video auditing, or RVA – and will extend it to 20 hospitals this month, with more possible in the future.

“We believe that third-party RVA can provide our hospitals with strong, sustainable tools to improve patient safety,” said Dr. John DiCapua, the system’s chair of anesthesiology.

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