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Frog Design’s New Vitals Monitor: An Antidote to Human Error

The Connex Electronic Vitals Documentation System rolls all your diagnostic measurements into one touch-screen monitor — fully equipped with wireless.

Frog Design and medical equipment manufacturer Welch Allyn have unveiled a new device that vows to radically reduce errors during the measurement of patients’ vital signs.

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Each year, workers at the average hospital or clinic make 10,000 mistakes measuring basic info like heart rate and blood pressure and waste 8,000 hours jotting down the (sometimes wrong) stats. That translates to a quarter of a million dollars in squandered productivity annually. These might sound like the symptoms of fatally systemic waste veining through American health care, and in many ways, they are. But in other ways, the issue’s much simpler. It’s a design problem.

The Connex Electronic Vitals Documentation System rolls all your diagnostic measurements into one touch-screen monitor that doubles as a mobile data messenger. Nurses and doctors can track everything from a patient’s heart rate and pulse oximetry to his height and weight, then dispatch the information wirelessly to an electronic record. (Previously, they had to transcribe data from charts to PCs, which just rolled out the red carpet for human error.)

With all that complex info stored in one place, Frog kept the interface simple. Numbers are big and vital signs color-coded to prevent grossly exhausted nurses from confusing, say, temperature and pulse rate. Tabs make it easy for them to tap through assorted menus onscreen. And yeah, it works with medical gloves.

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The device is mobile, too. So if you need to dash it across the hospital, you just lift it up by its ergonomic handle like a lunch pail and set it down wherever you’ve got an outlet. An alarm light is visible from any and every direction — even at a distance — so you never miss an emergency.

In a beta test for Welch Allyn, St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center in Syracuse, New York, claims the device sliced time spent charting vitals in half and shaved mistakes by about 75 percent. Obviously, it can’t eliminate flubs altogether. But it’s a promising antidote to the old inefficiencies, and maybe it’ll rise above the usual dreck designed into medical technology.

[Images via Frog Design]

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About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D

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