You’ve probably heard about the incredible benefits hospitals, physicians, and patients can get from TeleICU. Implementing remote ICU services can help a hospital manage its budget, give physicians more control over their working conditions, and ensure patients get the care they need at the moment they need it. These benefits seem to be great, but are they too good to be true? Is TeleICU really safe or could it put patients in jeopardy? Here’s what experts are saying.
TeleICU is 100% Safe
The first point to understand is that teleICU services are not meant to replace in-person clinical services in the ICU. Instead, remote ICU care is designed to enhance the bedside patient experience. People have this idea that the only caregiver in the ICU room with teleICU services is the ICU physician who is remotely attending patients over a tablet or other screen. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There will still be in-person, certified ICU caregivers (nurses and other medical professionals) taking care of the patients in the ICU at all times.
The remote ICU physician is on call to make decisions regarding a patient’s care in collaboration with the in-person caregivers. They can prescribe medications, order procedures, and even discharge patients in a timely manner. Instead of having to wait for an on-call physician to make their rounds or until an ICU doctor comes on shift the next morning, a patient’s needs can be addressed right away. The remote ICU physician can access all the patient’s medical information through the electronic health record system and know exactly how to best treat them.
Improved Patient Outcomes
Far from being unsafe, TeleICU services have actually shown to improve ICU patient outcomes because remote physicians can immediately address physiological instability, quickly acting to re-stabilize the patient. But, the need for in-person care is not replaced by teleICU services. It’s only enhanced. The in-person staff must communicate the patient’s status to the on-call remote physician and provide them with data that isn’t automatically tracked.
The physician has real-time access to the patient’s vital signs and can make quick decisions that are literally life or death. The more timely care provided by teleICU physicians means critical situations can be mitigated, thereby increasing the odds of the patient’s successful recovery. This doesn’t mean that in-person ICU physicians will be phased out, but it allows hospitals to provide expert care even if they are short staffed or operating on a limited budget.
Enhanced Care Improves Patient Experience
Not only is teleICU safe, but it has also been shown to improve patient experiences. No one wants to wait to have their condition assessed or an unexpected complication addressed. By bringing in a remote ICU physician, the patient and their family can breathe a little easier knowing their concerns don’t have to wait until morning. They can get answers they need right away, which will be reflected in their perception of the quality of care they receive.
Conclusion TeleICU services might not be right for every hospital or hospital system, but they certainly have their place in patient care and are increasing in popularity all the time as patient outcomes continue to improve.