Tele-ICU and Patient Safety Considerations
The tele-ICU is designed to leverage, not replace, the need for bedside clinical expertise in the diagnosis, treatment, and assessment of various critical illnesses. Tele-ICUs are primarily decentralized or centralized models with differing advantages and disadvantages. The centralized model has sufficiently powered published data to be associated with improved mortality and ICU length of stay in a cost-effective manner. Factors associated with improved clinical outcomes include improved compliance with best practices; providing off-hours implementation of the bedside physician's care plan; and identification of and rapid response to physiological instability (initial clinical review within 1 hour) and rapid response to alerts, alarms, or direct notification by bedside clinicians. With improved communication and frequent review of patients between the tele-ICU and the bedside clinicians, the bedside clinician can provide the care that only they can provide. Although technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, technology alone will most likely not improve clinical outcomes. Technology will enable us to process real or near real-time data into complex and powerful predictive algorithms. However, the remote and bedside teams must work collaboratively to develop care processes to better monitor, prioritize, standardize, and expedite care to drive greater efficiencies and improve patient safety.