Benjamin Fineman work resume bio contact
detail of patient summary view and alarm notification
overview of wearable armband device, which alerts nurses to alarms
detail of proposed system, showing the ICU environment as it would appear with the new devices

MetaMonitor: a system for patient monitoring in ICUs


My thesis project focuses on patient monitoring in hospital intensive care units (ICUs). Currently ICUs have an unintegrated set of technologies that don’t adequately support the needs of nurses and adapt poorly to the physical space. Alarms, in particular, have a number of well-documented problems.

MetaMonitor creates a coherent, unified system for conveying alarm and patient information from various devices to nurses. Rather than replacing current monitoring devices, MetaMonitor aggregates information and displays it in a consistent manner. The physical components of the system consist of four devices: networked displays throughout the unit, lights and speakers outside each room, and armband devices worn by each nurse. I designed a set of visual, auditory, and tactile alarm notifications for these devices, as well as rules and relationships that make the system work, including alarm categorizations and a nurse location-tracking system. MetaMonitor simplifies the current jumble of alarm notifications into an ordered framework, providing more information more quickly to nurses and allowing them to respond to the patient rather than the alarm.



  • Medical journal literature review
  • Observations in ICUs
  • Interviews with ICU directors, nurses, and respiratory therapists
  • Opportunity identification and concept ideation
  • Design and testing


Innovation & hot design topics

  • A systems approach to the problem resulted in a collection of devices, notifications and rules rather than a single product.
  • A wearable device meets the needs of nurses who move frequently within the unit and often have their hands occupied with other tasks.
  • The system is sensitive to the physical space of the ICU, using location tracking to make intelligent guesses about nurses’ activities.

More information

  • A presentation which summarizes the project (pdf, 2.6 MB)
  • The final process and system documentation (pdf, 8.2 MB)
  • A progress poster summarizing research activities from the first half of the project (pdf, 1.7 MB)


next project | previous project | back to list

© 2003. All rights reserved.