Philips Software Cuts Down on Patient Monitor Alarm Noise

The company worked with sound design group SenSound to soften and round the alarm tones.

Patient Intellivue 1

Philips has received 510(k) clearance for its latest IntelliVue patient monitor software, which features the availability of several new solutions, including the Philips Sounds alarm package, making it available in the USA and more than 200 countries worldwide.

Noise in hospitals can impact the quality of life and health of patients, their families, and their care providers. In the average ICU, patient monitors account for up to 82% of alarm tones with up to 350 alarms per patient every day. While alarms function to gain attention, over time the sheer number of them can wear down caregivers and contribute to the anxiety of patients and their families. To help drive alarm management strategies toward a more peaceful, healing environment for patients and caregivers alike, Philips has applied a fresh perspective to acute patient monitor alarm sounds by collaborating with clinicians and world-leading sound experts.

The IntelliVue alarm evolution involved a significant research investment to capture and implement input from care providers and patients in alarm-heavy environments. Together, Philips and the sound design group SenSound worked to soften and round the alarm tones and adjust alarm intervals to more gently signal status or request action using a more soothing – yet still impactful – set of alarm sounds. These changes are designed to help improve the patient and caregiver experience. Philips’ new patient monitoring sounds have been proven to reduce alarm noise by up to 66%.

“Alarm management within the hospital setting is complicated and multifaceted, and even the smallest change will have an enormous impact,” says Andreas Walden, Usability Leader, Hospital Patient Monitoring at Philips. “When we think about medical alarms generally, we make sure they are audible, prompt action, and can be differentiated from other sounds. But we haven’t asked questions like ‘Is this something a nurse on a 12-hour shift should hear every day?’ or ‘Can a sick patient hear this without getting scared?’ The ability to address those concerns is the beginning of transforming the entire soundscape in the hospital.”

With over one million IntelliVue patient monitors in use, the evolution of our monitor sounds means the potential to enhance and change the soundscape in healthcare facilities worldwide, helping to advance the healing environment for both patients and hospital staff.

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