The digital patient

Clin Med (Lond). 2013 Jun;13(3):252-7. doi: 10.7861/clinmedicine.13-3-252.


Despite efforts, the detection of patients who are deteriorating in hospital is often later than it should be. Several technologies could provide the basis of a solution. Recording of vital signs could be improved by both automated transmission of the measured parameters to an electronic patient record and the use of unobtrusive wearable monitors that track the patient's physiology continuously. Electronic charting systems could make the recorded vital signs readily available for further processing. Software algorithms could identify such patients with greater sensitivity and specificity than the existing, paper-based track-and-trigger systems. Electronic storage of vital signs also makes intelligent alerting and remote patient surveillance possible. However, the potential of these technologies depends strongly on implementation, with poor-quality deployment likely to worsen patient care.

Keywords: Early warning score (EWS); emergency treatment; monitoring; patient safety; vital signs.

MeSH terms

  • Electronic Health Records*
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Vital Signs*