A remote ‘eye in the sky’ will now help keep round-the-clock tabs on critically ill patients in the UK, thanks to an innovative and soon-to-be-available telehealth solution called the eICU (Intensive Care Unit) Program, with the first UK installation set for London’s Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals, part of the King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre.
The Philips eICU installation at the hospitals will be the first of its kind in the UK and Europe. The system, supported by funding from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, is set to be implemented within one year, with technical preparations currently underway. Upon completion, the system will provide care to a minimum of 65 ICU beds with the potential to expand to 120 ICU beds. The eICU Program, often dubbed ‘a second pair of eyes on patients’, is designed to transform conventional ICU in hospitals using real-time, 24/7 patient monitoring overseen by critical care specialists – in a similar way to an air-traffic controller’s station.
Patients are monitored remotely using proprietary clinical software and tools, such as two-way audio and high definition video. This means a team of experienced intensivists and nurses can constantly monitor a patient’s condition, including during out of hours (nights and weekends). It allows the team to alert bedside physicians in a timely way to ensure that even subtle changes in vital signs, such as heart rate or blood pressure, are not missed.
“ICU is one of the most challenging areas of the hospital – it is where doctors and nurses respond to the sickest, most vulnerable patients who can rapidly take a turn for the worse with little or no advance warning,” said Dr. Richard Beale, consultant intensivist, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. “With Philips’ eICU Program, the bedside clinical staff will have immediate access to a team of highly skilled senior colleagues who provide an added layer of support to help save lives, reduce complications and decrease the length of ICU stays.”
According to recent studies, the Philips eICU program is clinically proven to reduce the severity-adjusted* hospital mortality rate by 27%.1-9 Fewer complications have also been seen to lead to a reduction of more than 23% in severity-adjusted length of stay for the eICU Program,1-9 which has resulted in helping hospital systems reduce costs and increase revenue. * “Severity-adjustment” compares health outcomes after adjusting for patient factors, so that outcome differences are attributed to healthcare interventions, not differences between populations.
Last year, the NHS announced it needed to save £20 billion by 2015 – a saving of about 4% a year, meaning hospitals will be looking at areas where they can improve efficiency whilst meeting patients’ expectations about increasing the quality and safety of care. Against this background, demand for critical care continues to rise, placing further pressure upon staff and hospitals. An approach that can improve the quality of care and make the most of scarce staff resources, consequently improving healthcare value, is therefore very attractive. “Improving patient care and better managing health care costs are equally important in the current financial circumstances,” commented Brian Rosenfeld, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for Telehealth at Philips Healthcare.
“As a health and well-being company, we are committed to creating the future of health care through innovative solutions that improve patient outcomes, provide better value and expand access to care. Using cutting edge technologies combined with our clinical expertise, we are confident that the introduction of the eICU Program will help address the many challenges that the UK health care system and its hospitals are encountering, ultimately providing patients with the highest quality of care.”
References: Hospital Mortality, Length of Stay, and Preventable Complications Among Critically Ill Patients Before and After Tele-ICU Reengineering of Critical Care Processes. Lilly et al. JAMA; 2011;305(21):doi:10.1001/jama.2011.697 Impact of an Intensive Care Unit Telemedicine Program on a Rural Health Care System. Zawada, et al. Postgraduate Medicine, 2009; 121(3):160-170. Tele-ICU: Experience To Date. Lilly et al. Journal of Intensive Care Medicine, September 13, 2009; 1-7 Effect of Telemedicine on Mortality and Length of Stay in a University ICU. Kohl et al. Crit Care Med. 2007;35(12):A22 Improved Screening and Management of Severe Sepsis (SS): Combining an integrated multidisciplinary Team and Technology. Jenkins et al. Crit Care Med. 2009 Vol. 37, No.12 (suppl):738 Remote ICU Care Correlates with Reduced Health System Mortality and Length of Stay Outcomes. Howell et al. Chest. 2007;132(4):443b-444b. Savings in RN Staffing Costs Pre and Post eICU Implementation. Goran et al. Data provided by MaineHealth, November 2008 Effect of a Telemedicine Facilitated Program on ICU Length of Stay (LOS) and Financial Performance. Norman, et al. Crit Care Med. 2009 Vol. 37, No.12 (suppl):32 Based on aggregated patient stay data from customer eICU Programmes since when compared to the national average
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