Until you've actually been in an ICU that uses electronic ICU or eICU technology, you probably aren't going to understand exactly what it can do for both staff members and patients. But, physicians and nurses who are already working in one can give you an idea of what it's like. There's a reason why more hospitals are adding tele ICU services to their ICUs and it's because it's shown not only to improve patient outcomes (which is the main benefit), but also to alleviate staffing and budgetary shortages. Here's a glimpse into what is most likely the ICU of the future.
An Extra Set of Eyes
Intensive care patients require round-the-clock care, which can be challenging for hospitals that are already short on employees. Finding an ICU intensivist who will work the night shift at a rural hospital, for example, can be next to impossible. But with remote ICU technology, a licensed ICU intensivist is always a video call away, whether it's 12:00 p.m. or 12:00 a.m. and all times in between.
Essentially, an eICU system allows patients' vitals and other medical information to be monitored all the time, even if the in-patient care team is not available to monitor it. The remote care team acts like an air traffic controller, keeping watch over real-time medical data on the sickest patients in the hospital so any change in their status can be immediately addressed.
Remote Equipment is Available in Every ICU Room
A medical unit that is set up for remote monitoring has a computer, monitor, camera, and microphone in every ICU room. This is a definite requirement because the in-person care team must be able to access the equipment the moment it's needed. The equipment can't be shared throughout the ICU because if it's in use for one patient, it has to also be available for other patients who might need it at the same time.
The equipment in each room is turned off by default so that the patient doesn't feel like their privacy is in jeopardy. The only time the equipment is in use is when the in-person care team activates it and is using it for a consultation or communication with the remote team. In many cases, the equipment faces the wall when it's not in use, just for added patient peace of mind. Patients and their family members can also use the equipment with the assistance of the in-person care team to talk to the remote physician and ask any questions they might have.
Improved Safety Equals Improved Patient Outcomes
Due to the fact that someone is always monitoring ICU patients in a tele ICU, the safety of those patients is greatly improved. This is because any change in a patient's status is immediately related to the in-person care team so they can respond appropriately in the shortest amount of time possible. If a patient tries to get out of bed, for example, the monitoring physician can alert a member of the in-person care team to go to the patient's room and make sure they are safe.
Remote ICUs are the wave of the future, especially as their benefits become more apparent over time. Early adopters are already realizing fantastic returns and other hospitals are sure to jump on board when they see these results.