- Two VA hospitals across the country from one another have connected through tele-ICU technology and remote patient monitoring tools to enhance the care of veterans under intensive care.
A partnership between Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System (EOVAHCS) and the Tele-ICU Monitoring Center at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center provides veterans from rural communities with ICU and specialist care.
Under a program funded by the VA Office of Rural Health, EOVAHCS installed teleconferencing equipment in 11 ICU rooms and three EDs. This equipment allows providers to deliver 24/7 care through connectivity with critical care nurses.
The nurses manage the equipment, which allows a provider from the Cincinnati VA Medical Center to access to bedside clinical data, communicate with patients, and provide clinical staff with direct intervention instructions as needed.
EOVAHCS recognizes tele-ICU as a way to enhance care for remote veterans that are in highly vulnerable conditions. The staff sees tele-ICU as “an additional layer of monitoring to standard care and increased access to intensive care expertise and consultation, particularly in rural areas.”
“They will be able to do vital checks on our patients and they will make rounds in the patient rooms,” said Marie Stanhope, ICU Registered Nurse at EOVAHCS. “They will be able to enter labs and assist us with medical emergencies. It’s going to be very beneficial for us and for our patients.”
Tele-ICU offers patients who need immediate attention speedy consultations from specialized experts. In a similar partnership, a community hospital and health system in Hawaii launched an integrated tele-ICU network to deliver fast ICU expertise and improve overall health outcomes.
“The goal is to deliver high quality, patient-centered care where intensive care experts are available at the bedside when the patient needs it. This ensures patients at NHCH have timely access to intensive care specialists in their home community without having to transfer inter-island to Queen’s on Oahu.” said Matthew Koenig, MD, Medical Director of Telemedicine for The Queen’s Health Systems.
Providers can also use tele-ICU to improve patient satisfaction and limit the burdens patients must undergo when receiving intensive care. Along with 24/7 care, a Vermont health system is using tele-ICU to allow rural patients to remain close to their communities to receive ICU care without cumbersome transfers to other facilities.
Tele-ICU even has the potential to help providers and caregivers improve post-acute care specifically for patients just leaving an intensive care unit. Researchers from Indiana University have developed a 12-week pilot program to see if tele-ICU can decrease delirium and dementia for elderly ICU survivors. The focus of the study is aimed towards elderly patients who can’t regularly go to physical therapy and similar post-care programs.
The VA tele-ICU program continues the health system’s commitment to enhancing care through technology, EOVAHCS officials added.
“We are very excited to partner with the Tele-ICU Monitoring Center at the Cincinnati VA Medical,” said Mark Morgan, EOVAHCS Director. “Tele-ICU exemplifies how the VA is leveraging advanced technologies to provide the highest quality services to Veterans.”