Telemedicine Emerging as Rural ICU Solution

Doug Desjardins , January 23, 2014

Lower mortality rates
"If you have someone sitting in front of a screen monitoring a patient's vital signs 24/7, you're going to catch things other hospitals might miss," she says. "It's like flying a plane manually compared to flying a plane with instruments."

UMass was able to reduce its ICU patient mortality rates by 30% during the first year of its program; it also reported a reduction in hospital-acquired infections and other complications that often result in longer hospital stays.

John Muir Health, which operates two acute care hospitals in northern California, launched its tele-ICU program in 2007 and has produced even better results.

After 18 months, John Muir reported a 45% reduction in ICU mortality rates and a 54% reduction in the average length of stay (LOS) for ICU patients. "Those results show that the quality of care improved dramatically and resulted in fewer complications, shorter ICU stays, and better patient outcomes," says Carol Olff, who manages John Muir's tele-ICU program.

John Muir established a remote monitoring station at its administrative offices to track ICU patients at its hospitals in Concord and Walnut Creek. The monitoring station is staffed round the clock by a team of 34 nurses and 14 medical specialists. To help with patient monitoring, each patient bed is equipped with Smart Alert software that alerts providers to any changes in vital signs that could signal a problem.

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