Leveraging Technology to Improve Care
NORFOLK, Va. (June 23) - In June of 2000, Sentara was the first hospital system in the country to implement the eICU® remote monitoring system for its sickest hospital patients. This innovative use of technology was expected to help ensure more consistent and wider intensive care coverage on a 24-hour basis. Thirty-five beds were initially monitored as a way to test the capabilities and benefits of the system.
Ten years later, the Sentara eICU® oversees 103 beds in 10 distinct ICUs of five different acute care hospitals spanning over 60 miles. This Sentara-pioneered technology is now used to help care for patients in nearly 5,000 ICU beds nationally. More than one million ICU patients have been cared for using this strategy of frequent re-assessment, alert-prompted evaluation, and rapid response to clinical needs.
“We understood very early that technology and internet connectivity had the potential to improve patient care,” says David Bernd, chief executive officer of Sentara Healthcare. “We were pleased to see the early successes of the system to decrease mortality and ICU length of stay and the resulting successes that have followed in the ten years since then.”
Through a network of cameras, monitors, alerts, and two-way communication links, doctors and critical care nurses at the eICU® command center make virtual rounds on ICU patients. Intensivists, physicians specialized in the care of the critically ill, were now able to continuously monitor the condition of patients, check vital signs and communicate with hospital staff, patients or family members.
“Our goal has always been to move toward being one of the top performing institutions in the country,” says Steven Fuhrman, M.D., Sentara medical director for the eICU center. “To do that, we feel the evidence is fairly clear that we can achieve improved patient outcomes by using the eICU® to leverage the capabilities of our Intensivists.”
Hospital ICUs have more critically ill and complex patients now and employ more sophisticated technical interventions than ever before. Studies show that without a consistent level of care as can be provided by Intensivists who ensure appropriate ICU standards and protocols, care and outcomes suffer.
The eICU® system proved its effectiveness early on. Intensive care mortality rates at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital dropped by 25 percent and the average length of stay for these patients was shortened by 17 percent. An independent evaluation by Cap Gemini, Ernst & Young showed the eICU® solution reduced Sentara's per patient costs $2,150 based on reduced patient expenses and increased ICU capacity.
“Not only does Sentara eICU® save lives and improve care, it reduces costs,” adds Bernd. “In today’s climate of health reform, we need to be finding the best clinical solutions while at the same time being good stewards of resources and eICU® is one of the ways we are accomplishing that goal.”
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