Digitized ICU project saves Emory Healthcare $4.6 million over 15 months

Launched to address staff shortages, the program helped speed up discharges to patient homes.
By Bernie Monegain
01:55 PM
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Emory Healthcare Digitized ICU

Officials at Atlanta-based Emory Healthcare say they saved $4.6 million over 15 months due to a program that allowed nurses to remotely monitor patients in the intensive care unit using eICU technology from Philips.

Emory launched the program to help address ICU staffing shortages, installing high-resolution cameras and microphones to monitor patients and to alert the ICU team when a patient is in distress.

To measure how well it worked, auditors from research firm Abt Associates on behalf of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services compared Emory’s eICU program at five hospitals to operations at nine other hospitals in the Atlanta for three years.

The audit showed Emory reduced its average Medicare spending by $1,486 over 60 days compared to the other hospitals, which, in turn, led to the estimated $4.6 million in savings for care of Medicare beneficiaries.

Manu Varma, the business leader for Philips Wellcentive and Hospital to Home offerings, said his company’s technology can help solve several healthcare challenges.

“As health systems transition to value-based care and depend more on population health tools, these long-term benefits to patients are not only reducing readmissions and improving outcomes, but also have the potential to increase hospital ratings and lower the cost of care,” he said.

Compared to the other hospitals, Emory discharged patients sooner, experiencing a 4.9 percent increase in the rate of patients discharged to their homes to receive care. Emory also saw a 6.9 percent decline in patients discharged to skilled nursing facilities and long-term care hospitals and a 2.1 percent decrease in 60-day inpatient readmissions.

Timothy Buchman, MD, director of Emory Healthcare’s Critical Care Center and professor of surgery and anesthesiology at Emory University School of Medicine, said the results indicate that because the patients receive more consistent care, they leave the ICU healthier, without being readmitted or needing extended rehabilitation.

Moreover, patient satisfaction was higher than the other hospitals for those who received care at Emory’s facilities, according to Buckman.

 “As the nation ages and chronic illnesses accumulate, the need for timely and effective critical care continues to grow,” said Cheryl Hiddleson, director of the Emory eICU Center, said in a statement.