Clinical information systems can record numerous variables describing the patient’s state at high sampling frequencies. Intelligent alarm systems and suitable bedside decision support are needed to cope with this flood of information. A basic task here is the fast and correct detection of important patterns of change such as level shifts and trends in the data. We present approaches for automated pattern detection in online-monitoring data. Several methods based on curve fitting and statistical time series analysis are described. Median filtering can be used as a preliminary step to reduce the noise and to remove clinically irrelevant short term fluctuations. Our special focus is the potential of these methods for online-monitoring in intensive care. The strengths and weaknesses of the methods are discussed in this special context. The best approach may well be a suitable combination of the methods for achieving reliable results. Further investigations are needed to further improve the methods and their performance should be compared extensively in simulation studies and applications to real data.