Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Tele-ICU arrives in Charleston
A new technological system, scheduled to go live Oct. 7 at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, is able to serve as a second set of eyes in intensive care units from more than 600 miles away.
VISN 7 is establishing Telehealth Intensive Care Unit services, also known as Tele-ICU, at all VISN 7 facilities with Intensive Care Units.
An advanced Telehealth program, Tele-ICU uses a combination of technologies such as videoconferencing and electronic medical records to create a link between medical specialists and Veteran patients. It allows for continuous monitoring of Veterans receiving ICU care, even when local providers are out of the room assisting with other critical patients.
“Tele-ICU will be a wonderful enhancement of care for us here in Charleston,” said Diane Styk, clinical nurse specialist at the Charleston VAMC.
How does the Tele-ICU system work? Highly trained critical care nurses in Cincinnati staff the Tele-ICU monitoring center 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with critical care physicians available overnight on off shifts and 24 hours a day on weekends. The remote providers have access to bedside clinical data, can assess Veterans through video conferencing technology, and can provide consultative recommendations or directly intervene in patient care as desired by the local ICU staff.
When a Tele-ICU staff member cameras in, the Veteran will see them on a monitor in their room. It’s important to know that the system does not continuously monitor Veterans using video and the video is not recorded. Tele-ICU services will not replace existing bedside staff or services, but only add that additional layer of support to local clinicians providing care to Veteran patients.
“Studies show a drop in mortality rates among patients in intensive care units equipped with Tele-ICU monitoring,” said Styk. “It has also been shown to decrease a patient’s overall length of stay in the ICU.”
Tele-ICU exemplifies how the VA is leveraging advanced technologies to provide the highest quality services to Veterans. Our Veterans watched over us during their service. It is our time to watch over them in their time of need.