Tele-ICU for Veterans
- Need: To enhance care for patients in critical condition.
- Intervention: Two VA facilities in Oklahoma and Ohio are connected through audiovisual equipment using smart technology in order for providers to monitor patients and consult with clinical staff at the bedside.
- Results: From April 2018 to April 2019, there were 5,933 video assessments performed on ICU patients at the Oklahoma facility by tele-ICU staff. This resulted in 7,379 hours of patient care time.
Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System (EOVAHCS) serves over 47,000 veterans in a 25-county region, with facilities in Tulsa and the rural communities of Muskogee, McAlester, Vinita, and Idabel. EOVAHCS and the Cincinnati VA Medical Center's Tele-ICU Monitoring Center have partnered to provide access to 24/7 remote patient monitoring for rural veterans in the intensive care unit (ICU) and emergency department.
The program was funded by the VA Office of Rural Health.
Six ICU rooms and three emergency department rooms at EOVAHCS have teleconferencing equipment. Critical care nurses use this equipment to connect to providers and other critical care nurses from the Cincinnati VA Medical Center. Through teleconferencing, providers and nursing staff can access patients' bedside data, videoconference with patients, provide consultations, and communicate with clinical staff through any medical emergencies.
When a tele-ICU provider or nurse virtually enters a room, the camera turns to face the patient; now the provider and patient can see each other and communicate. The camera turns off when the teleconferencing session ends. The cameras do not record video.
From April 2018 to April 2019, there were 5,933 video assessments performed on ICU patients at EOVAHCS by tele-ICU staff. This resulted in 7,379 hours of added assessment time by either an Intensivist or Certified Critical Care RN. This enhances the care provided by bedside staff and provides an additional layer of support.
One example of this program's success occurred in June 2018. A patient came to the emergency department with an acute stroke. Normally, the staff would use a tele-stroke tablet but could not get it to work. They contacted a tele-ICU provider who evaluated the patient's symptoms and helped the onsite provider decide the best course of action. This tele-ICU provider helped speed up the patient's treatment and increase their chances of a successful recovery.
There are some challenges with emergency department (ED) staff not using the remote patient monitoring when they have onsite providers available. More often, these staff members use tele-ICU to give a report on patients who will go to the ICU.
There have been some technology challenges that have not allowed the tele-ICU staff to see data in real-time situations. To address this, the facility has updated the telemetry system and bedside monitoring of patients in ICU and ED.
Through mandatory training for providers and nursing staff, program coordinators are seeing more involvement with tele-ICU.
Contact InformationNita McClellan, Public Affairs Office at EOVAHCS
Emergency department and urgent care services
June 6, 2018
Date updated or reviewed
June 18, 2019
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2019. Tele-ICU for Veterans [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/1014 [Accessed 18 May 2021]
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