Are you a hospital administrator who’s considering the use of tele ICU services to help alleviate the strain of physician shortages and high hiring costs? If so, you may be on the fence about what this technology can do and how it can be used in your ICU. Here are just some of the applications of virtual ICU services that hospitals all over the world are using to cut costs, alleviate staffing shortages, and above all, improve patient outcomes.
The primary application of tele ICU services is to remotely monitor an intensive care unit (ICU) in a hospital. More than any other unit in a hospital, patients in the ICU are prone to developing complications that need to be addressed quickly. While all ICUs still have in-person staff even when using tele ICU technology, the number of people on duty varies based on who is available for each shift. These in-person caregivers can’t be everywhere at once, but when the unit is being remotely monitored, complications are immediately detected and resolved.
All vitals from all patients in the ICU are fed to the virtual ICU center and are monitored by experienced and knowledgeable medical professionals. If a complication arises that requires intervention, the physicians can tell the in-person staff exactly what needs to happen to properly treat the patient. This is not something that can always happen when an ICU isn’t constantly monitored by a third party. The ICU staff must track down the on-call ICU physician, wait for them to arrive, and only then can the complication be handled. Tele ICU cuts out the wait time and improves patient outcomes.
Often, ICU patients stay in the ICU for longer than they really need to because the on-call ICU physician is not available to discharge them to another floor. Perhaps the patient is ready to be moved in the evening when the ICU doctor has already left for the day. Now, the patient has to stay in the ICU until the morning, taking up a valuable ICU bed that could be used for someone else who really needs it. Virtual ICU services can provide discharge orders at any time of the day or night so that ICU beds can be freed up earlier, which is vital when there’s an outbreak of illness like the recent pandemic.
Patient and Family Communication
Even though they try to be, family members can’t always be in the hospital for physician updates about their loved one’s condition. Likewise, the physician can’t always come to the ICU when the family is there. With tele ICU technology, though, the patient and the family can communicate with a qualified ICU physician whenever the time is right. They can be updated on the patient’s condition and learn more about what is going to happen from that point forward. Communication is often a pain point for patients and family members, but virtual ICU services can help resolve this issue and bring up patient ratings.
The technology to remotely monitor an ICU is available and offers many benefits to hospitals everywhere. Not only are there financial and employment reasons to implement a virtual ICU, but there are real positives to patient outcomes as well.