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Telehealth Applications in the Intensive Care Unit

It may come as a surprise to many that Telehealth can be effectively implemented in a critical medical environment, such as an intensive care unit (ICU), but believe it! Tele-ICUs are a rather recent use of telehealth and it is growing rapidly. The idea is to deliver more effective critical care, particularly in areas that lack the required amount on intensivists. It is a demand that has since been growing during the pandemic, and coupled with a shortage of intensivists, which has spurred greater usage of tele-ICU systems.

“In an ideal world, patients would have an intensivist at the bedside 24/7, but the reality is that even if we had all of the money in the world, we don’t have enough trained professionals to do the job,” – Cleveland Clinic intensivist Chiedozie Udeh, MD.

Using telemedicine systems in the ICU in a hybrid model with on-site care helps to save lives. A recent study by the Cleveland Clinic which was presented at the 50th Critical Care Conference has shown that they can link an 18% lower mortality rate to the integration of tele-intensivists. The study included 9 Cleveland Clinic Health System hospitals and 154,000 ICU patients. They attribute the lower mortality rate to a constant monitoring split between on-site and remote intensivists, allowing them to provide more timely medical intervention.

Assisting in the care and treatment of patients that are critically ill with the remote use of intensivists to support and provide real-time services to multiple understaffed ICUs requires specialty telehealth systems. Tele-ICU systems are perhaps one of the most complex and advanced of telehealth solutions to date. This is because tele-ICU systems integrate many emergency and monitoring systems including smart alarm systems, risk prediction algorithms, and machine learning tools in order to ensure better quality of care. With these systems in place, remote intensivists can do everything an on-site intensivist can do that does not include emergency treatments.

These tele-ICU systems record vast amounts of data which need to be secure and require an innovative telehealth solution to do so. Global Telehealth Exchange (GTHE) is a state-of-the-art telehealth solution that encompasses many aspects of the healthcare journey and can be possibly used as the network to enable tele-ICU systems. It is HIPAA-compliant, secure, and provides worldwide access to healthcare. With access to healthcare professionals globally, and the ability to securely share information, patients using GTHE will have no problems in getting the help they need from anywhere in the world. Meanwhile, healthcare providers have greater access to other specialties for referrals if the need arises. And, as many specialties require better or quicker communication channels, having easy access to full medical records with the permission of the patient, can help healthcare providers to diagnose and advise treatment options more efficiently. General practitioners and specialists using GTHE can easily make referrals or share documentation when needed.

GTHE offers many benefits to healthcare providers including:

Instant reimbursement

Top level data security

Cross-border treatments

No additional paperwork, and in most cases eliminates it all together

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