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Telehealth Improves Patient Care in ICUs

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, December 6, 2013

Patient survival of ICUs is 26% more likely when backed by eICU services, and patients are discharged faster from the ICU and the hospital, a new study finds.

New research supports telehealth within intensive care units as improving patient survival rates and speeding discharge.

"A Multi-center Study of ICU Telemedicine Reengineering of Adult Critical Care" examined the impact of remote intensive care units (eICUs) on nearly 120,000 critical care patients who were treated at 56 intensive care units, 32 hospitals, and 19 health systems over a five-year period. The research demonstrated reductions in both mortality and length of stay. The results were statistically significant on both an unadjusted and severity-adjusted basis.

The study, which was published Thursday in CHEST Journal Online First, was authored by Craig M. Lilly, MD, professor of medicine, anesthesiology, and surgery at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Director of the eICU Program at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, MA.

"The number one thing was that either your care plan was created by an intensive care specialist [working remotely], or within one hour of you arriving at the ICU, an intensive care specialist went over the plan and made sure it was right, almost like a second opinion if you will," Lilly told HealthLeaders Media. "These [eICU] systems generate an awful lot of information about performance, and folks that use that information in nearly real time to improve their performance, to understand what they were doing, and how to do it better, had a lot greater improvement than people that reviewed it quarterly or annually or [only] when they had a problem."

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