The rapid developments of technology in the medical world have led to new possibilities that could improve the level of care patients get around the world.
Telemedicine is one particular area which is enjoying swift growth, and it involves using communications technology to access patient results, do research, exchange information as well as carry out various healthcare related activities such as diagnosis, home monitoring and treatment, across distant locations.
Telemedicine encompasses any technology which allows exchange of healthcare information without face-to-face, in-person contact with the patient.
eICU technology was introduced primarily to combat this acute shortage of medical practitioners and doctors in distant areas.
It links one facility located in a distant place with a central command center of a well-equipped hospital that is usually located in urban areas.
This implies that the real-time tracking of a patient’s condition and critical stats are done by doctors located in a different location (called command center).
A dedicated live video, data digitization software providing inputs regarding the patient’s condition, bedside monitors, as well as audio feeds, connect a command center with the patients.
Electronic ICUs are manned round the clock at the command centers, and specialist physicians give healthcare providers in remote areas timely guidance regarding the treatment of the patient.
Here are the benefits of elCU.
Benefits of eICU
More Pleasant Work Environment
For one thing, because medical personnel at the command center are able to maintain a continuous focus on patients, the command center tends to be quiet as there are no alarms and bells that go off that majority of eICUs require to alert doctors and nurses that they are needed.
The peace of mind generated from the use of eICU creates a work environment that is more pleasant that is not normally seen in the eICU.
Better Patient Treatment
The eICU approach also has benefits to patients. There are things that nurses and doctors can view that they couldn’t do at the bedside.
For example, it’s easy to see a trend in the patient’s blood cells. It could also be a trend with the temperature, or even if their blood pressure comes down. The above symptoms could be tell-tale signs of a patient having an infection.
If you were off the previous day as a bedside nurse, but you are on today, you won’t have the exact picture of yesterday.
However, the command center staff can easily access data and vital stats in the computer screen, which makes it easier to have a heads-up as a bedside staff.
Hospitals Take Care of More Patients
Hospitals are now able to take care of more patients that they did a couple of years ago. Also, research shows that there have been decreased mortality rates, as well as medical practitioners and doctor’s length of stay.
According to Lindblom, who oversees critical care at Carolina’s HealthCare System, there are clear signs virtual eICU is working.
Of the ten hospitals that are in the program, there has been a decrease in eICU mortality by 5 percent, while the length of stay has come down by 6 percent.
According to Lindblom, virtual care does not get the credit it deserves. He adds that the hospitals in the program have rolled out a program to manage sepsis better, a leading cause of fatality.
However, he says that virtual care can help with the program and almost all other aspects in the eICU.
Patients Can Receive World-class Care at Home
Before virtual care, complicated cases had to be referred to major healthcare facilities.
Today, it’s possible for some of those affected patients to stay close to their homes with their family. This is because the patient can receive the same quality of treatment as they would have sought at bigger, faraway facility.
Technology is a critical component to eICU, with the system using microphones, alarms, video cameras and other monitoring gadgets to observe patients and send this data to the command center.
Cameras are situated above the door in every room, and it is on at all times. To ensure that the patient and the family’s privacy is preserved, the lens is always facing the wall, and it’s only turned on periodically towards the patient.
Also, the equipment doesn’t have recording capabilities.
The hospital’s eICU physician will remain in charge of the patient, and it’s them that determine the level of involvement of the eICU team.
This involves from 24-hour monitoring to consultation and even to treatment.
Irrespective of the level of support that they give, the eICU intensivists closely coordinate with the patient’s doctor to ensure that they are proceeding with the designated course of treatment.
Virtual care system delivers an excellent level of vigilance and expertise that not many hospitals in the country can match.
Advantages in Rural Areas
The benefits of implementing an eICU are even greater in rural areas.
Some patients don’t feel very comfortable visiting doctor-chamber or hospital.
However, the system creates communication between healthcare professionals and patients, maintaining convenient and commitment.
Also, through telemedicine, medical images and information are kept private and transferred safely from one spot to another.
This increases people’s belief in the system and feels confident to get help from it.
It can save lives in situations of emergency, where there isn’t much time to move the patient to another hospital.
In majority of rural communities, remote areas or places which have just experienced disasters, consistent health care isn’t always available.
Such places may benefit from telemedicine to provide emergency health care.
It is even more useful for patients who reside in isolated or inaccessible regions.
It is possible for patients to get quality clinical healthcare right in the comfort of their homes without needing to make long, arduous trips to the hospital.
Through modern technological innovations like mobile collaboration, it is now easy to share information and discuss serious medical cases among healthcare experts from different locations.
The eICU technology is meant to offer remote access, monitoring as well as a safety net to intensive care units that can’t afford round-the-clock intensivists.
The system implements a distant facility with a team of physicians and nurses who can see vital signs and data, electronic medical records (such as radiology and lab studies), and communication paraphernalia within the room of the patient.
This enables communication and visualization with nurses and other staffs in the eICU.