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Costly eICUs Get Results

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, October 12, 2010

Resurrection Health Care, a six-hospital system in Chicago, has also found success—both financial and in improved outcomes and reduced length of stay—with its remote ICU. Resurrection's return on investment in the program—which monitors 182 beds and costs the system about $6 million a year—is calculated using a variety of metrics, including length of stay.

In the past two years, the organization saved about 9,200 ICU days. Using a conservative formula of $1,250 a day, that's a savings of about $11.5 million over two years, says Rebecca J. Zapatochny Rufo, RN, Resurrection's eICU operations director.

The system has seen a decrease in length of stay after a patient is released from the ICU, she adds, saving about 18,500 non-ICU days over two years. At $300 per day, that's an additional $5.6 million in savings.

But the most important bottom line, Rufo says, is that the virtual ICU has saved an estimated 1,090 lives in that two-year period. Yes, the infrastructure and technology are expensive, she says. But the cost of poor quality, complications, and death are greater. "That's your return on investment," she says. "There's no price tag that can fit that. Quality of care is priceless."

To read more about the eICU programs at LVHN and Resurrection Health Care, see Virtual ICUs: Big Investment, Bigger Returns, which is the third in a three-part series on how technology impacts the cost of healthcare.

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2 comments on "Costly eICUs Get Results"


SH (10/14/2010 at 1:55 PM)
I would have to agree that numbers provided by individuals involved in the program are of solid basis. I am familiar with the program as well and the number shifting and crunching that goes on to get the numbers they want to see. All of these facilities that can show "cost savings" are unable to show it in hard figures with their budgets. Also, the eICU services are taking credit for all the decrease and not attributing those other things that are going on such as process improvement activities and additional regulatory requirements that have to be measured. I think that more independent review needs to be done.

Ken (10/13/2010 at 9:07 AM)
Does anyone find it surprising that in response to an independent study that refutes the value of an expensive technology installation, those who have invested tons of money in the technology will respond with their own studies, clearly not objective, that show the "value" of the acquisition? I am familiar with the technology, but not enough to make claims about it positive or negative. But at some point we need to start relying on sound, independent studies to make decisions on technology and practice or we will never climb out of our financial hole.