The Advantages of Implementation of Telehealth Innovations in Hospitals: A Case Study on Tele-ICU Abstract With the continuing introduction of new technology and new innovations it is important that hospitals, especially rural hospitals make use of the changes in available technology, as this can offer decreased operational cost, decreased patient mortality and an increased level of patient care…
Introduction The world is rapidly changing rapidly including advances in technology which significantly improve the ability of hospitals to provide care for their patients. Innovation and the implementation of new technology is an essential part of the continued development of hospitals, particularly those operating in the rural environment. This report presents a case study on the implementation of innovative methods and techniques in the area of telehealth, a rapidly expanding focus of health research and implementation. Telehealth is a broad term that encompasses the use of any form of technology in the medical field. This may be as simple as consultations over the telephone, to video conferences, to the application of real time monitoring of vital signs . It is not known how far telehealth will eventually extend as technology continues to be developed, but it provides a crucial role in hospitals and patient care, offering innovative methods of increasing level of care and decreasing patient mortality. Intensive care units (ICUs) admit millions of patients every year, but despite this the mortality rate is still high, averaging between ten and 15 percent . It has been considered that high levels of intensivist care as well as the implementation of standards for intensivist can significantly decrease the mortality rate in urban hospitals. Because of the limitation in available intensivists an effective method of achieving the same results is the use of telehealth to spread out the resources that available and increase the level of clinical outcome as well as the economic outcomes. Tele-ICU is an application of this that is widely used and has substantial potential in rural hospitals to decrease the workload and an increase in efficiency. Telehealth and Intensive Care Units One of the most important factors in ICUs is the monitoring of patients. This ensure that staff are able to quickly know which patients require assistance, foresee any potential problems, and monitor a large number of patients without high amounts of manpower being required. Tele-ICU was first developed in 1982 as a method of caring for patients in hospitals that did not have intensivists or that had only a limited number . It has since expanded to become a system which allows for the continuous monitoring and sharing of information between bedside physicians and nurses, and a monitoring station. This is achieved through the use of two-way audio and video technology through remote connections and allows for the monitoring of many different patients simultaneously. As a consequence of this technology, the monitoring station, rather than the patients themselves becomes the primary focus of staff time and attention. The number of staff that are required to run the station varies substantially depending on the number of beds that the system covers, with networks that contain less than 70 beds being able to be run by a single physician and critical care nurse . The monitoring station allows the access of real-time information concerning the patients, as well as patient histories and test results all from the single location . Success of Tele-ICU The application of tele-ICU has not been restricted to urban hospitals, but has also seen widespread use in the rural community. In 2004 a tele-ICU was established in a ...
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