IT helps prevent complications at Resurrection Health hospitals

By Bernie Monegain
09:42 AM

Critical care patients at seven of Chicago-based Resurrection Health Care's hospitals are far less likely to develop complications and have extended ICU stays since the health system implemented an advanced information technology system.

Data from more than 12,000 patients treated from 2006-2008 at 13 Resurrection ICUs, presented last week at the Health Information and Management Systems Society's annual conference, show substantial reductions in complications, mortality and length of stay. This data supports results from other hospitals nationwide that using eICU technology to link remote critical care specialists with hospital ICU teams is one solution to the nation's growing crisis in critical care.

Resurrection's eICU system, developed by Baltimore-based VISICU, uses information technology and connectivity to link ICU patients and their bedside care teams across Chicago to a remote, central command center staffed by Resurrection intensive care specialists and critical care nurses.

Intensivist physicians are in short supply. According to the Leapfrog Group, numerous studies show intensivist staffing reduces the risk of ICU mortality by up to 40 percent, but less than a third of patients nationwide have access to these specialists.

"Twenty-four/seven intensivist-led care has become a necessity, not a luxury, and this system has proven to be an excellent way to address the growing critical care crisis resulting from aging baby boomers and the shortage of critical care doctors and nurses," said Pat Shehorn, executive vice president and CEO at Resurrection's Westlake and West Suburban hospitals. "We have seen a reduction in our net costs using this program which we believe demonstrates improved access to intensive care specialists and represents a win-win for patients and hospitals. Our implementation of this system supports the nation's goals of reduced costs and better outcomes using information technology."

The results were presented at HIMSS09 by Rebecca Rufo, a nurse and operations director for the Resurrection Health Care eICU Program.

"We have seen the dramatic mortality and cost benefits that information technology can bring to our patients here at Resurrection," Rufo said. "Conditions in the ICU can change in a matter of minutes, and we owe it to patients and their families to deliver the highest quality care around-the-clock, seven days a week,"