With a white, plastic vest wrapped tightly around his shoulder and across his chest, a wire slithering into an LCD monitor to his left side, Dr. Scott Feitell sits patiently as a small loading bar on the screen ticks forward. At precisely 90 seconds, the bar finishes its crawl, displaying a simple “30” on the screen.
“That means 30 percent fluid,” Feitell, director of Heart Failure at the Sands-Constellation Heart Institute. “Anything below 35 percent we consider normal, and anything above would indicate we need to examine the patient.”
This vest comes from Sensible Medical, and could be used to drastically reduce the number of patients in a revolving door relationship with a hospital by catching potential heart failure early on. Now two years out from FDA approval, the vest is working its way through patient trials. Rochester General Hospital is the first hospital in upstate New York, and one of the first community hospitals, to get their hands on it.
“The problem with heart failure is the heart fills up with fluid,” Feitell said. “And, to be honest, a lot of times physical examinations miss that. It’s one of the biggest causes of readmission, and patients don’t tend to live as long if they keep returning.”
The vest utilizes a radar sensing technology known as remote dialectic sensing (ReDS) to detect fluid levels in the heart. The purpose of ReDS, however, was not originally intended for the medical field, as Feitell explains.
“When this technology was originally designed, it was for the Israeli military,” Feitell said. “As the situation can be over there, when something horrible happens, you could use this technology for trying to find bodies buried in rubble. This is essentially the same concept.”
In its early hours, the ReDS technology showed promise in reducing readmission rates for heart patients. According to a study done by Sensible Medical looking at readmission rates among hospitals running trials of the vest, including four Israeli hospitals and the Davis Heart & Lung Research Institute in Columbus, Ohio, readmission rates plummeted under the use of ReDS. Specifically, readmission dropped 87 percent in the three months following the introduction of ReDS and rose 78 percent in the three months following its removal.
“We are at about 25 percent readmission at Rochester General,” Feitell said. “If we could get that down to 20, it would be an amazing win for us, and if we can get that 87 percent reduction we saw in the study, that would be incredible.”
While showing promise in successfully reducing the number of readmissions, the ReDS technology can give assurance that medical professionals don’t overlook anything before a patient walks out the door.
“What makes this so great is that it’s a quick, non-invasive preventative measure,” said clinical nurse educator Erica Perez. “We can use this with every patient on their way out.”
While the vest is still in its trial phase, Feitell hopes to see it as a standard in medical centers and, in the long-run, in patient’s homes.
“It can be so that a patient takes a reading at home, and if there’s anything abnormal, calls with the number and we send out a nurse,” Feitell said.
With the only requirement being 90 seconds sitting in a chair, Perez pointed to the painless nature of the vest as a truly great thing for patients, nurses and doctors alike.
“We always have to say ‘this will only hurt a little bit,'” Perez said. “For this, we can really say this isn’t going to hurt.”
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