Just as telemedicine has revolutionized the doctor’s visit, tele ICU is completely changing how ICU patients are monitored and managed. Tele ICU, also referred to as eICU and remote ICU monitoring is the practice of diagnosing and treating critical hospitalized patients (normally in the intensive care unit) through a remote telemetry process. It makes it possible for hospitals to have a fully-staffed ICU at all times of the day and night, even if they don’t have the resources to hire in-person physicians. While this is a main benefit of tele ICU, there are several others, including the four discussed here.
Immediate Access to Board Certified Intensivists
This is probably the biggest benefit of tele ICU aside from addressing staffing shortages. ICUs don’t have to wait for an in-person intensivist to make their rounds to take care of emergent, urgent, or non-acute issues that arise when they aren’t in the hospital. In the past, an ICU intensivist may only be called for emergent or urgent issues, but non-acute problems wouldn’t be addressed until the intensivist was available in person. With tele ICU, any and all issues that arise at any time of the day or night can be immediately addressed by a board certified intensiveness.
Technology makes it possible for a remote physician to review radiology images, read lab reports, or consult with other doctors to improve patient outcomes. Delays in treatment can be a thing of the past because of this instant access to ICU physicians. This not only increases patient satisfaction, but ensures a hospital is meeting the standard of care for an ICU.
More Timely Discharges from the ICU
The ICU is expensive, both for the hospital and the patient. By employing tele ICU, patients don’t have to wait until they see an ICU intensivist in person to be discharged. If the hospital staff believes a patient is ready to be discharged from the ICU, they can consult with a remote ICU intensivist who can review the patient’s EMR and provide guidance to the staff. Every moment counts in the ICU, so if a patient who no longer needs to be in the ICU is taking up a bed, it could be preventing someone who does need the ICU from getting the treatment they need.
Nighttime ICU Coverage
It can be challenging to find nighttime coverage for the ICU, especially when there’s already a staffing shortage. Tele ICU makes it possible to consult with an ICU intensivist at any time, even in the middle of the night. ICU staff don’t have to worry about waking up the on-call intensivist because they can just make a request to see one virtually. And, that request will be granted in a timely manner to ensure emergencies and urgent issues can be addressed as quickly as possible.
Sometimes, ER personnel have difficult decisions to make regarding ICU admission. They don’t want to take up an ICU bed if it’s not necessary, but they also don’t want to keep a patient who needs the ICU from getting the required treatment. With instant access to ICU intensivists, ER staff can get help with these decisions to make the right one.
Tele ICU can solve many of the problems ICUs face, from staffing challenges to better patient care to better admission and discharge decisions. Nearly all hospitals can benefit from adding this technology to their services. Tele ICU is the future of medicine, but it’s here today.