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Lehigh Valley Health Network: Advanced Practice Through Technology

Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) in Allentown, Pennsylvania, is a leading health network made up of five hospital campuses - including the region’s only facility dedicated to orthopedic surgery, community health centers, community
clinics, and home health and hospice services. From the beginning, LVHN Telehealth Services has relied on the experience of nurses to bring interactive technologies to the bedside and exam room. On September 21, 2004, Vistacom partnered
with LVHN to launch the Advanced Intensive Care Unit (AICU) program.
“LVHN was the first health network in the nation to utilize this level of technology,” said Angela Nolan, Chief Operations Officer at Vistacom. “The standard of patient care was revolutionized with the Advanced Intensive Care Unit System.”
The impact of the AICU has been very positive, providing a significant reduction in mortality – 31 percent relative mortality risk reduction – and a significant decrease in the use of mechanical ventilation among patients, compared to ICU
patients who were cared for prior to the launch of the AICU. Prior to the Makito deployment, LVHN went through the process of upgrading to a new electronic
health record system called Epic. The Vistacom programming team collaborated with the Epic team to come up with a protocol for the Epic and AV control software to handle queuing up the patient video and audio to the AICU Intensivist.
“This project is unique in the sense that an AV control system is processing the commands between many devices and SQL databases to link the patient to a doctor in a matter of seconds in their time of need,” stated Mark Ripley, Programming
Manager for Vistacom. Mark added, “The collaboration between Epic and the Vistacom Programming team was a huge success.”
Since the original design and deployment of the technology for the AICU program, Vistacom has maintained their partnership with LVHN and continues to service and upgrade the system as needed. The most recent improvements
included a large deployment of Haivision Makito streaming video encoder and decoders.
“We have an understanding of the unique measures that must be considered to ensure that this critical information had zero downtime during the technology deployment,” said Rich Mullen, Senior Account Manager for Vistacom.
Makito was chosen for its low encoding latency and complete audio and video synchronization, which is critical in the AICU environment. Makito allows AICU staff the ability to initiate a call using interactive two-way audio and video links that are built into each AICU room. This videoconferencing link allows the AICU intensivist and nurses to work with the bedside staff. It also offers a way for the AICU staff to interact with the patients and family members and answer any questions.