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How to Reduce Patient Sitter Costs—with MedSitter

With remote patient observation, one observer can watch over multiple patients at one time. You are paying just one hourly rate to keep up to ten patients safe. Here is how it works.

The use of 1:1 sitters can put a terrible strain on nursing budgets. It is also very disruptive to operational workflow; you are either hiring beyond your capacity, or you are pulling people from other duties to provide enhanced observation services. ​The industry average shows that sitters make $15.97/hour (Source: Zippia), and most hospitals maintain 24-hour sitters for 3.5% of their Average Daily Census. 

Fortunately, virtual patient observation systems like MedSitter can help. With remote patient observation, one observer can watch over multiple patients at one time. ​A cart that is equipped with a viewing screen, camera, and microphone is brought to a patient’s bedside and an observer at a remote location can connect to multiple carts at one time. ​With this system, we are truly providing remote patient care. ​ 

Let’s take a look at how, exactly, remote patient observation reduces sitter costs. 

MedSitter Data 

MedSitter is not just a screen, camera, and microphone. MedSitter also collects system-generated data and staff-reported data. Examples of system generated data include hours of observation, number of patients under observation, and total alarms. Examples of clinician-reported data include number of falls avoided, reasons for observation, and good catches. 

Before we jump into the potential cost savings, let’s look at real 2022 data from one of our clients in the Midwest. 

Between January 1, 2022 and April 25, 2022, this hospital:​ 

  • Engaged in more than 14,000 hours of observation​ 
  • Verbally intervened more than 7,500 times​ 
  • Reported more than 380 avoided falls 

Now that we have a base, let’s look at the potential cost savings your organization could achieve with MedSitter. 

Potential cost savings 

Sitter management often falls within the nursing department. However, the ongoing nursing shortage has made it challenging to support a 1:1 onsite sitting program, and thus remote patient observation has begun to emerge as an optimal solution. The financial impact of remote patient observers can be incredibly substantial. Simply putting observer in charge of multiple patients saves in payroll, tax, management, and worker’s compensation expenses. Let’s look at a hypothetical scenario. 

Let’s say a hospital with an average ADC of 100 uses traditional 1:1 patient observation. At 3.5% coverage, they are doing 30,660 hours of observing annually. At $15.97/hour, the cost of sitters for those numbers of hours per year is $489,640.  

ADC = 100 

(100 x 0.035) x 24 x 365 = 30,660 hours of sitting 

30,660 x 15.97 = $489,640 

But if that same hospital uses MedSitter observation, one observer can watch up to ten patients at once. That means that the hourly rate of an observer effectively drops to $1.597, since one hour of sitting is split between ten patients. With those same 30,660 hours of observing, at $15.97/hour divided by ten, the cost of sitters for those numbers of hours per year is only $48,964.  

ADC = 100 

(100 x 0.035) x 24 x 365 = 30,660 hours of sitting 

30,660 x 1.597 = $48,964 

That’s more than $440,000 in annual savings on labor. Keep in mind, this is a very simplified example of potential cost savings. It does not account for the increased patient safety in your facility and thus the reduction of adverse events.  

From 1:1 to 10:1 

Remote patient observation marries efficiency with conscience care so that at-risk patients are never left alone, nursing staffs are not stretched too thin, and hospitals can reduce costs. Patient observers can be used to help keep patients safe during their stay, but staffing and budgetary limitations make 1:1 observation difficult to maintain. Since one virtual sitter can watch up to ten patients, MedSitter essentially makes one sitter ten times more effective 

With MedSitter, more patients can be observed without requiring more staff members. If you want to maintain your current coverage percentage, you can reallocate your sitting staff to perform other vital duties throughout the hospital.Sitters can also be used for suicide/self-harm watch, while CNAs with patient care experience can be used to observe patients with MedSitter to provide remote patient care.  

Remember, you are paying $16/hour for one observer regardless of whether they are watching one patient, or ten. Maximize your observer’s efficiency while providing additional coverage and care with MedSitter. 

To learn more details about the potential cost savings of MedSitter, take a look at our recent webinar here 

To learn more about MedSitter and to discuss getting it up and running in your facility, visit the Contact Us page now.    

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