Telemedicine and Videoconferencing: Continuing To Deliver Improved Healthcare
In the late 1960s, medical services witnessed the adoption of a revolutionary approach by the physicians of the Massachusetts General Hospital. They ran a microwave line under Boston Harbor which connected the Logan International Airport to the Hospital. In addition to helping critical patients save precious time by not having to navigate through the heavy Boston traffic, it also paved the way for the delivery of vital patient care through telemedicine. Through this initiative, the airport clinic examined patients and prescribed medications faster. It established the essence of telemedicine—providing fast, effective, and appropriate medical care, no matter the patient’s location.
Today, telemedicine and videoconferencing provide ample opportunities for physicians to consult, monitor, and follow-up with remote patients. This ensures the delivery of proper treatment and care, and in cases of Tele-ICU offers lifesaving benefits.
Harnessing the Benefits of Videoconferencing for Healthcare
While videoconferencing does not replace face-to-face interactions, it does boost doctor/patient relationships. Imagine every critical care patient having a private physician at the bedside 24 hours a day, seven days a week to monitor and chart every vital sign as it occurs, immediately detect and respond to the slightest need, able to prevent life-threatening situations.
Advanced ICU: Saving Lives Through Technology.
Telemedicine in Intensive Care Units has helped nurses and caregivers provide better quality care to patients. Intensive Care Units are a distraction-prone area due to the frequent alarms and other interruptions. Nurses and caregivers sometimes commit errors, some of which may be fatal. The Advanced ICU is a support system that provides additional surveillance. It assists the bedside team to deliver timely interventions. It uses the telemedicine technology to provide effective monitoring and delivery of appropriate treatments. These technologies include high-resolution zoom cameras, microphones, and speakers installed in a patient’s room
Vistacom has broad experience in deploying Telemedicine systems, the most successful being the ICU “tele-intensivist” system at Lehigh Valley Health Network. A research study conducted by a team at Lehigh Valley Health Network shows this use of telemedicine lowers death in critically ill patients by nearly 30 percent and reduces the use of mechanical ventilation. The study results were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Lehigh Valley Health Network has one of the industry’s most advanced electronic charting systems, which automatically captures and transmits data from bedside monitors and equipment to the AICU, miles away. Customizable “events” inform intensivists about serious changes in the patient’s condition so they can act immediately to address the problem. The electronic charting system also eliminates much of the bedside paperwork, freeing caregivers to spend more time with patients.
Tele-intensivists do not replace bedside care, because hospitals continue to have the same number of physicians and critical care nurses at the bedside. Instead, it provides an added and higher layer of care to help detect problems earlier and provide faster treatment. This, in turn, reduces complications, shortens hospital stays and saves lives.