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Welcome to Iron Bow's TechSource, a blog about the issues facing the government and industry today and the technologies being adopted to help overcome them.

Tele-ICUs Bring Better, Faster Care to the Most Critical Patients

Dan Klanderman, Director of Unified Communications and Collaboration, Iron Bow Technologies

January 2, 2020  |  Telehealth

Telemedicine has made incredible strides in bridging the healthcare divide for rural and low-income patients who don’t have regular access to hospitals. But lesser-known is the impact the technology is having in hospitals, especially in intensive care units.

Take, for example, a small hospital dealing with reduced staff and funding. With a lack of resources they may not be able to fully staff their ICU around the clock, or to be able to respond as quickly when new patients arrive with serious injuries or other health problems. ICUs treat 6 million of the highest-acuity patients every year and have the highest mortality rates and highest costs in the healthcare industry as a whole.

Telemedicine platforms have the power to help overcome those challenges. The National Institutes of Health define tele-ICU as technology-enabled care delivered from off-site locations, developed to address the increasing complexity of patients and insufficient supply of ICU staff. While this is true, it only scratches the surface.

By utilizing telemedicine in the ICU, smaller hospitals can access specialists quickly and easily. This frees up on-site staff to take on the most serious cases and keeps patients who want to stay in their local hospitals from being transported to larger hospitals potentially hundreds of miles away.

A 2017 American Journal of Medicine article pointed out that a 2012 study found an association between tele-ICU use and lower ICU mortality rates. Both ICU and hospital mortality decreased in the study as a result of higher usage of telemedicine in the ICU.

Similarly, a 2017 NIH study said utilization of tele-ICU technology was associated with increased best-practice adherence, including prophylaxis for ventilator-associated pneumonia, catheter-related infection, stress ulcers and deep vein thrombosis.

This is isn’t just a solution to help patients, but also for cash-strapped hospitals trying to meet federal regulations on ICU care response times. One case study showed that it could take up to 15 minutes for an on-call ICU doctor to get to a patient in an emergency. But utilizing tele-ICU capabilities, that response time was reduced to seconds.

With better access to care, we are always looking to help provide our health providers with a better means and more innovative ways to enhance patient outcomes. This past year we launched our latest virtual care solution, MedView—a telemedicine solution that harnesses technology already in place in most hospital rooms and requires no monitoring from nurses or other hospital staff. MedView’s small form factor design couples with the existing in-patient room infotainment screen for the display of the video consultation. It can also be integrated with industry-leading electronic health record platforms.

While MedView does a lot more than just tele-ICU (including virtual consultations, e-rounds and virtual family visits), its ability to take pressure off the staff tending to the most critical patients will undoubtedly save time, money and, ultimately, lives.

For more information on how Iron Bow Healthcare can help you implement telemedicine solutions, visit our website.

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