May 1, 2021
The Rise of Tele-ICU
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What role did tele-ICU play in meeting the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic
The global outbreak of COVID-19 has highlighted the essential role that new technologies can play in the provision of critical care in the 21st century. Tele-ICU has enabled clinicians to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients without risking exposing themselves or those around them to the highly contagious illness. It has also given smaller, outlying hospitals unprecedented access to quality intensive care management, provided by highly trained critical care specialists. The COVID-19 pandemic has also drawn attention to the severe shortage of critical care physicians, which had been recognized as a problem even before the pandemic.
The rapid spread and the severity of Covid-19 have wreaked havoc on the world’s medical systems. The influx of critically ill patients requiring ICU care including intubation and complex management overwhelmed many facilities, many of which were already overburdened and thinly staffed even before the epidemic.
The situation was dire in some large, urban hospitals and was even worse in many rural hospitals. These smaller hospitals lack the expertise needed to care for complex, critically ill patients and therefore, usually transfer such patients to larger, more-adequately staffed and equipped facilities. However, during the COVID-19 crisis, they had no choice but to keep many of these patients in their facilities because the larger hospitals were unable to accept transfer patients. Available ICU beds became a prime commodity, as did life-saving equipment such as mechanical ventilators.
Telemedicine’s role during the Covid pandemic is two-fold: connecting clinicians with bedside providers (such as nurses and non-intensivist physicians, such as hospitalists), and patients, as well as strengthening frontline bedside teams, both irrespective of location. In addition, the challenge of the epidemic underlines particular areas in which tele-ICU has become critical care’s future. What is this future? The ability to leverage up-to-the-minute virtual technology to treat ICU patients. This technology reinforces the standard care by virtually linking highly trained specialists with ICUs. The tele-ICU staff also employ best practice protocols, manage ventilators, respond instantly to cardiac life support requirements, and are able to assist in managing aberrant situations such as a sudden influx of patients.
ICU telemedicine has been an invaluable resource during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of its most valuable contributions have been:
Isolation Demands Reinvention: Controlling the pandemic with general lockdowns and with social distancing has led to an increase in feelings of isolation and loneliness, resulting in a notable increase in the incidence of, especially among the elderly. This loneliness and isolation is especially prevalent among hospitalized COVID-19 patients whose isolation precautions preclude family visits and limits the number and length of direct interactions with hospital staff. Telemedicine capabilities have enabled tele-ICU nurses to fill in the gap with more-frequent video check-ins and have also been adapted for use by social workers, chaplains and other staff to facilitate emotional support for the patients while minimizing infection risk to the hospital staff. telepsychiatry has also become an increasingly important tool in this struggle.
COVID and beyond
Throughout the pandemic, many patients in the ICU have received the care they need thanks to tele-ICU solutions.
Telemedicine companies, including RemoteICU, are playing a significant role in creating new paradigms for the use of remote technology in the provision of critical care. Hospitals can instantly receive the support of intensivists thereby improving treatment quality and efficacy, not only during the COVID-19 crisis but continuing well beyond.
We provide hospitals with Tele-ICU shifts, for existing and new Virtual ICUsLearn more
Our Internal Medicine telehospitalists cover the smallest to the largest hospitalsLearn more
Our teleneurologists perform general neurology, in addition to tPA administration for stroke via TeleStrokeLearn more
Our telemedicine coverage is replicated and performed for all inpatient or outpatient specialtiesLearn more