Remote monitoring program in ICU

When it comes to caring for patients in intensive care units, there are not enough doctors and nurses to go around.

About 6,000 intensivists, physicians with advanced critical care certification, currently guide around-the-clock care for ICU patients. More than 30,000 are needed nationwide.

To improve quality of care, hospitals are using a Philips VISICU eICU remote electronic monitoring program proven to reduce mortality by 25 percent. It also reduces complications and hospital cost and shortens a patient’s hospital stay by 1 1/2 days.

    The University of Mississippi Medical Center went live with the program – one it calls Intensiview – on Dec. 15.

    The program allows up to 10 nurses and a physician at a time to work from a north Jackson office to remotely monitor vital signs, view X-rays, review lab work, talk to nurses and patients and evaluate patients with two-way audio and video cameras.

    “The camera is so sensitive that we can look at all the numbers on the monitor,” said Terrie Gillespie, director of operations for Intensiview and an acute-care nurse of 26 years. “We can zoom in and read her (a nurse’s) name tag if need be. We can look at pupillary reaction.”

    “It’s like being at the bedside with your hands in your pockets,” said Dr. Doug Campbell, director of pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine at UMC.

    Each nurse can monitor 30-40 patients 24 hours a day. A physician works from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and will monitor 100.

    The technology allows the team of critical care specialists to support the bedside care team and ensure the dayside doctor’s care plans are followed throughout the night.

    “I think this is going to be just so much support for nurses on the floor,” said Belinda Birdwell, a critical care nurse of 18 years and a new UMC employee.

    She worked her first day in the remote office Dec. 16.

    “They feel like they have a resource person as a backup if they get into a situation.”

    For example, an alarm will ring if a patient’s blood pressure drops. If the ICU nurse is attending to another patient and not in the room, an Intensiview nurse can call the unit to have someone check the patient. The Intensiview physician can send in orders for medications immediately instead of ICU nurses taking extra time to find a physician or contact the on-call physician.

    Besides acquiring the system to monitor 83 ICU beds at UMC, the program will expand to monitor 24 ICU beds at Delta Regional Medical Center by June.

    “Really the mission of all this is to take health care to underserved areas, particularly the Delta,” said Gillespie. “We would like to include hospitals in every area of the state as well as the long-term acute care facilities.”

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