By repurposing badges originally designed to locate nurses and other hospital staff, Johns Hopkins Medicine scientists say they can precisely monitor how patients in the hospital are walking outside of their rooms, a well-known indicator and contributor to recovery after surgery.
A team of engineers and clinicians at The Johns Hopkins Hospital developed the repurposed badges to study their value in tracking “ambulation,” or mobility, among inpatients who had undergone cardiac surgery.
The study, which began nearly four years ago and is described in a report published March 17 in JAMA Network Open, was inspired by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Vice Dean for Research Antony Rosen, M.D., who also directs the institution’s precision medicine effort, inHealth. Rosen asked his colleague, Johns Hopkins University engineer Peter Searson, Ph.D., to help find ways to improve the assessment of how well patients are functioning.
“I was sold on Antony’s vision to improve patient care by finding ways to make high value measurements of patients’ functional status,” says Searson, the Joseph R. and Lynne C. Reynolds Professor of Engineering and a professor of materials science and engineering at The Johns Hopkins University.
After collecting information about how clinicians currently assess functional status day to day, Searson joined efforts with anesthesiologist and clinical researcher Charles Brown, M.D., who was conducting an ongoing study funded by inHealth, which focused on measuring the mobility of patients after cardiac surgery.
“Ambulation is important for hospitalized patients; in particular, for patients who have surgery and those who are older,” says Brown, an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, whose research focuses on improving perioperative care for older adults. “More ambulation immediately after surgery probably helps preserve patients’ cognitive and physical function, and