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Expanding technology in the ICU: the case for the utilization of telemedicine

Stacie Deslich, Alberto Coustasse
Telemedicine Journal and E-health 2014, 20 (5): 485-92
24621447

INTRODUCTION: Telemedicine has been utilized in various healthcare areas to achieve better patient outcomes, lower costs of providing services, and increase patient access to care. Tele-intensive care unit (ICU) technology has been introduced as a way to provide effective ICU services to patients with reduced access, as well as to decrease costs and improve patient care.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The methodology for this qualitative study was a literature search and review of case studies. The search was limited to sources published in the last 10 years (2003-2013) in the English language. In total, 55 references were used for this research exploration inquiry.

RESULTS: Tele-ICU was found to be an effective way to use technology to decrease costs of providing intensive care, while improving patient outcomes such as mortality and length of stay. Several case studies supported the use of telemedicine in ICUs to provide intensive care to patients who lived in rural areas and lacked access to traditional ICUs. Furthermore, it was noted that, although the initial costs for tele-ICU startup were significant, as much as $100,000 per bed, the benefits of the utilization of this technology can offset those costs by reducing costs by 24% via decreased length of stay for patients.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this study have suggested that the implementation of tele-ICU may have been more beneficial than costly, and it may have provided healthcare organizations the opportunity to increase quality of care and decrease mortality, while it might have decreased costs of delivering ICU services in both rural and urban areas.

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