Telemonitoring to boost ICU care for South Carolina hospital

By Bernie Monegain
10:09 AM

Tuomey Healthcare System plans to go live in April with tele-ICU services aimed at boosting its patient monitoring and care in the intensive care unit.

Hospital executives said they would tap St. Louis, Mo.-based Advanced ICU Care, a provider of tele-ICU services, to deliver monitoring by intensivist physicians and critical care specialists 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing an extra layer of care to enhance patient safety.

Tuomey Healthcare System, with its 301-bed facility, is one of the first hospitals in South Carolina to implement such a program and to meet the latest recommendation to have intensivist physicians monitoring intensive care patients around-the-clock. Tuomey Healthcare System's program is part of a growing trend of utilizing telemedicine to transform care and the financial performance in intensive care units.

"This new partnership with Advanced ICU Care is part of our commitment to continually innovate and improve services for our patients and our community, said Gene Dickerson, MD, vice president of medical affairs at Tuomey Healthcare System. “With the addition of around-the-clock telemonitoring by intensivist physicians to the level of quality care already provided by our ICU team and physicians in the hospital, our ICU patients will receive the highest level of medical care available today."

"It is now recommended that every hospital with 10 or more ICU beds offer a tele-ICU program," said Mary Jo Gorman, MD, chief executive officer for Advanced ICU Care. "Tele-ICUs are becoming an integral part of critical care. Our team is excited to collaborate with the physicians and clinicians at Tuomey Healthcare System Hospital, supporting them in providing the best possible care and safety for their patients."

Gorman noted that independent studies demonstrate that this 24/7 intensivist monitoring significantly improves patient outcomes and patient safety in the critical care unit. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) demonstrates how implementation of a tele-ICU intervention was associated with reduced mortality and reduced hospital length of stay, as well as with improvements in best practice adherence and lower rates of preventable complications. Another study published by the New England Healthcare Institute (NEHI) recommends that community hospitals with 10 or more ICU beds adopt tele-ICU care.

However, the current serious shortage of intensivist physicians means that many hospitals cannot provide the recommended coverage within their facilities. Advanced ICU Care answers the call, Gorman says, by providing a solution that involves board-certified intensivists, telemedicine and best practices that maximize the effectiveness of a hospital's ICU.

The team of intensivists and critical care nurses will work remotely around-the-clock complementing the care provided by the Tuomey Healthcare System physicians. The program will continuously monitor real-time patient vital signs, medications, labs and the patient's medical history. Proactive data management tools will identify problems before they become urgent, prompting immediate intervention when necessary. Two-way video access in each patient's room enables face-to-face consultations between the bedside and Advanced ICU Care team.

The patient's care will continue to be directed by their physician at the hospital and the hospital ICU staff. Advanced ICU Care will collaborate to ensure that each patient receives coordinated immediate attention when needed.