Patients at hospitals throughout New England in need of intensive care can now use Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center's new Tele-Intensive Care Unit (TeleICU) program. Located in Lebanon, the TeleICU hub is staffed with board-certified intensivists (physicians who have undergone advanced training in providing care for critically ill patients) and critical care nurses.
The TeleICU team collaborates with bedside clinicians in rural hospitals to provide real-time care, support, monitoring and clinical consultations, allowing even the most critically ill patients to receive care close to home. Clinicians communicate using two-way, interactive audiovisual technology.
In addition to serving partner facilities, such as Cheshire Medical Center in Keene and Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington, DHMC has linked its own medical, surgical and neurological intensive care units into the system.
“We’ve incorporated TeleICU in our own medical center because we recognize its ability to support our physician and nursing staff, mitigate burnout and improve satisfaction, while at the same time reinforcing the culture of safety and our commitment to quality patient care,” says Stephen Surgenor, MD, MS, medical director for the TeleICU.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock says, through bedside support, standardization of care and early intervention, TeleICU can improve patient outcomes, including reduced mortality rates, fewer complications and reduced lengths of stay, both in the ICU and in the hospital after discharge from the ICU. TeleICU also enhances the patient and family experience while decreasing the risks and costs of hospital transfer.
“The D-H TeleICU hub complements the robust breadth of telehealth services we provide to patients and their care teams,” says Kevin Curtis, MD, MS, medical director for Telehealth. “Our critical care clinicians work in tandem with the outstanding care teams at rural partner hospitals, reducing the number of patients requiring transfers to high-acuity hospitals, such as Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center – this is beneficial not only to patients, but also to their loved ones.”
Hospitals and health systems across the country are facing increased pressures–from lack of beds and overcrowding, to changing reimbursement models and declining numbers of specialists. In rural communities, the shortage is especially acute. TeleICU can help hospitals increase access to evidence-based care by providing their in-house clinical teams with expert support, as well as 24/7 monitoring of critically ill patients through advanced predictive analytics software. At D-H, software called eCareManager allows the TeleICU team to monitor patient conditions minute-to-minute and detect clinical issues before they become more serious events.
With nearly 2 million people residing in rural communities across northern New England, telemedicine will play an increasingly vital role in providing patients with access to the care they need within their own communities.
“D-H TeleICU facilitates excellent care for patients at ICUs across the region, and allows us to ensure that DHMC’s ICU beds are available for the most critically ill patients who require a level of care and access to specialists and other resources that can only be provided here,” Surgenor says. “This stewardship of all resources in the region makes sense for our patients and their respective communities.”
(Pictured above) In the D-H TeleICU hub clinicians demonstrate the technology used to collaborate with bedside clinicians at partner hospital locations.