We have reported in the past on AirStrip, a smartphone and iPad app that allows a mobile doctor to monitor the vital signs of patients in an obstetric ward or an ICU. The reverse, where a fixed doctor monitors multiple remote patients is now entering the mainstream and already making a difference in many patients’ lives.
In a compelling anecdote recently reported in Computerworld, a man experienced cardiac arrest while shopping and was taken to a nearby community hospital. An intensivist, monitoring from an eICU miles away, was immediately consulted. The remote doctor guided the treating physicians as they initiated unfamiliar hypothermia therapy to preserve the brain, and continued to follow the patient remotely throughout his 10 day ICU stay. Happily, the patient had a good outcome and is quoted in the article as an enthusiastic proponent of eICUs.
Using a combination of high definition remotely controlled cameras, mobile monitoring carts and software which continuously analyzes patient data to alert physicians only to physiologically important changes, a single intensivist can monitor up to 50 patients. The eICU system deployed at this particular hospital was developed by Phillips, who quote several retrospective studies showing improved outcomes and decreased costs where similar systems have been deployed.