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Last October we have applied for the Delft Health Initiative call for pilot projects. Recently, the Delft Health Initiative decided to grant six out of total twenty applications with funding. Happily, our application was meeting the conditions and ranked by the committee as one of these six applications to be granted! The Delft Health Initiative objective is to promote research in the field of Healthcare at Delft University of Technology – the Silent ICU project (in collaboration with Erasmus MC) fits well withing this mission.

What did we do so far?

Early this year, within the Silent ICU project, we envisioned what the future ICUs should sound like and investigated how technology could facilitate this. Among many others visions, ICAS (Intensive Care Alarm System) resulted in a detailed concept of how medical alarms can be managed—and significantly reduced—through a system that interconnects medical devices and clinicians, is sensitive to the occupants of the patient room and their activities, and forwards relevant audible alarms to pagers by transforming them into visual alerts and textual information. For example, ICAS silences all audible and visual alarms in patient rooms when clinicians are absent but forwards any relevant information to the pager of the clinician indicating only the urgency of the patient activity in sound and the remaining information in visuals.

What's next?

So far, there was no opportunity to implement ICAS. Implementation of ICAS will allow us scientific grounds to systematically study ICU-specific mental disorders such as delirium and alarm fatigue. As a societal challenge, ICAS can help policy makers and manufacturers realise the severity of the ‘alarm’ problem and call them for action. Demonstration of systems and practices that work will deflate the fear that feeds an overly protective and vigilant behavior observed in policy makers and manufacturers. As a result, creating an alarm-friendly ICU ecology for clinicians and patients that works will evoke trust in the society that can foster innovation and progress with hope, not fear.