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MVH Helps Physicians Improve Labor and Delivery Methods

Phone technology allows OBs to view vital stats, make decisions from anywhere

Dayton, OH (March 18, 2010) – Dr. Andre Harris isn’t ashamed to admit he’s an iPhone junky.

The Miami Valley obstetrician is always looking for the newest application to put on his phone, but in most cases it’s for his amusement. So, when he came across ground-breaking technology for his smart phone that would actually transform the way he delivers babies, he was ecstatic.

The product, called AirStrip OB, securely delivers real-time wavelength data from a patient’s location to a physician’s smart phone. With one simple touch, doctors can view patient information including contractions and fetal heart activity in the palm of their hand. Decisions, which historically relied on a nurse reading data over the phone, can now be more accurately made within seconds of viewing it.

“It gives you a thermometer from which to read how urgent the matter really is,” Dr. Harris said. “Sometimes it is hard to paint that picture verbally, but I can tell if this is something that I need to go to the hospital for just by looking.”

Dr. Harris is one of 50 obstetricians expected to use the technology at Miami Valley’s labor and delivery unit. The hospital launched the technology March 15th, becoming the first in the region to offer such a service to its doctors. The move – which will put the hospital in company with the likes of nationally known medical facilities like the Cleveland Clinic – will give moms one more reason to have their babies there.

Robin Schroeder, RN, who oversees all the services provided in the hospital’s Berry pavilion, says Airstrip OB is particularly vital to Miami Valley given the extent of cases it handles. Last year, the hospital delivered 5,200 babies, many of which were transferred in from other hospitals that were not prepared to handle the patient’s high-risk situation.

“When you are dealing with high-risk pregnancies, situations can change within seconds,” said Schroeder. “With the complexity of issues that we handle here, this technology is really important not only for our physicians, but also for the safety and well-being of our babies.”

Dr. Harris is quick to commend the group of labor nurses with whom he works, but says even the best working relationships and communication can’t replace actually seeing the data for himself. Airstrip OB will allow Dr. Harris to look at his patient’s total picture at any moment.

Besides wavelength data, the technology delivers everything from the patient’s blood pressure to all the notes taken by their nurses. Color coded dots next to the patient’s name also indicate how far they have progressed in labor. A red dot, for instance, tells the doctor that the patient is very close to delivering the baby.

Also, the technology goes beyond just benefiting those in labor. Physicians can monitor women who are being hospitalized for predelivery issues or those who come in with labor signs, but need evaluation to determine if they need to be sent back home. And just like any other computer record at the hospital, the information delivered to the physician’s phone is password-protected and in compliance with HIPAA guidelines.

Anyone skeptical as to whether the technology will really make a difference will have to look no further than the track record already set by those who have used it. Usage of the technology has exploded at the dozens of U.S. hospitals already using AirStrip OB. Most physicians reported four-fold increases in their use of the tool in less than a year’s time.

Dr. Harris, who set up his private practice here in 2002, said AirStrip OB is the first major step in infant delivery since hospitals put the wavelength information on computers that could be accessed by doctors throughout the hospital. That step allowed doctors to move freely throughout the hospital, making decisions about a patient without actually standing next to their bed.

AirStrip OB takes that capability even further - beyond hospital walls into the hands of the physicians no matter where they are located.

“The ability to see things in real-time, including the little nuisances that often happen, is a huge step forward for the Miami Valley,” Dr. Harris said.