Monday, June 25, 2012

Tele-ICU initiative improves care, increases employee satisfaction

HIGH POINT, NC – High Point Regional Health System has seen big benefits from a three-year tele-ICU pilot with St. Louis-based Advanced ICU Care, officials say – improving care while alleviating clinicians' workload.

High Point's intensivist-led team is based in the Advanced ICU Care Monitoring Center and receives constant information on the patient’s condition through sophisticated software that notifies them of any change in the patient’s health that might require immediate intervention, officials say.

Two-way video in the patient’s room can be activated to conduct a conference between the bedside care team and the Advanced ICU Care team at any time of the day or night. This constant surveillance improves patient safety and health outcomes by avoiding complications and adverse situations with prompt, proactive interventions.

Key to the High Point collaboration is the strong alliance between its staff and the Advanced ICU Care team, officials say. During the three-year partnership, this team has successfully implemented quality care initiatives for better patient management and safety measures to avoid potential complications that can occur in an ICU, such as blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, gastric ulcers and sepsis. A significant achievement is the implementation of an innovative “patient cooling” process for people with cardiac arrest. Patients who have received this treatment have awakened after the arrest with no cognitive impairment.

“Three years ago, we partnered with Advanced ICU Care to bring around-the-clock intensivist care to ICU patients in our community,” said Greg Taylor, MD, High Point's COO. “From a seamless implementation to the quality enhancements we continue to achieve, the collaboration between our hospital staff and Advanced ICU Care has been a success. We are able to offer our patients the highest level of care available in the ICU today and to continue to improve on that level of care every day.”

Research has shown that patients in intensive care do better when they are monitored around-the-clock by intensivists, physicians specially trained in critical care medicine. Constant surveillance by these specialists is now the recommended standard of care for hospital ICUs.

But a severe shortage of intensivists means it’s simply not possible for most hospitals to meet this standard and have intensivists on staff at the hospital at all times. Advanced ICU Care, the nation’s largest independent provider of tele-ICU programs, helps hospitals overcome this barrier and achieve optimal care in the ICU through a tele-ICU program combining sophisticated telemedicine technology, 24-hour-monitoring by Board-certified intensivist physicians and continuous quality improvement initiatives.

In addition to quality patient care initiatives and protocols, staff satisfaction and working conditions have improved since the implementation of the tele-ICU program, and High Point has seen a reduction in nursing turnover, officials say.

“Our nurses have really embraced this program," said Cindy Stewart, RN, director of critical care and cardiovascular services at High Point Regional. "Being able to speak with Advanced ICU Care in the middle of the night has improved employee satisfaction among our nursing staff. We find that when we recruit, many nurses have heard of remote monitoring, and they’re excited to learn something new.”

Physicians at the hospital say they're comforted that their ICU patients have an intensivist-led team available when they are not in the hospital, making sure their care plans are followed and available should any situation arise that needs immediate attention.

“The Advanced ICU Care program relieves the pressure of having to perform around-the-clock ICU coverage by existing staff and avoids burnout,” said intensivist Peter Brath, MD, medical director of High Point’s Intensive Care Unit and Respiratory Therapy. “There are more doctors available to provide weekend and night backup coverage. From a quality of life standpoint, it’s wonderful.”

“High Point has been a great partner and we are very excited by the strong results that we have been able to achieve together,” said Mary Jo Gorman, MD, CEO of Advanced ICU Care. “We feel very confident the hospital will continue to see additional benefits stemming from our collaboration, from improved patient care to staff satisfaction.”

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