When a loved one is in an intensive care unit, it is comforting to know that the physician in charge is an intensivist – a doctor who specializes in caring for critically ill patients. But not all hospitals have the resources to hire intensivists.
In 2004 Swedish Medical Center invested in a solution to the critical shortage of hospital intensivists by implementing a TeleICU – the only one in the state. This system provides remote, ongoing monitoring by specially trained ICU physicians and nurses, bringing the latest advances in telemedicine to hospitals across the region, and providing peace of mind for patients, their families, and the hospitals and administrators responsible for them.
The TeleICU command center team, which includes an intensivist, registered nurses and secretaries, monitors patients in multiple hospitals. Using cameras and audio feeds, the team conducts remote rounds, provides remote services and supports ICU nurses. Streaming information about blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen saturation, as well as immediate access to medication orders and X-rays, gives team members the vital information they need to closely monitor each patient’s status. Special “early warning” computer software can detect changes at the earliest indication. With the flip of a switch, the team can communicate directly with the patient’s nurse and support the bedside care team.
The Swedish TeleICU system does not replace the care given at a local hospital. Instead, it offers local an additional layer of safety and care.