The ICU Gets Connected
For most of us, when we need healthcare we go to our clinic or hospital and see a doctor. But in many parts of the world, that’s not an option. In small towns located far from urban centers, especially in developing countries, the trip to see a doctor may be next to impossible. Luckily, connected technology is making it easier for patients to gain access to healthcare remotely.
In places where healthcare is a scarce resource, technology can bring it closer to people. In India, Fortis Healthcare, www.fortishealthcare.com, is partnering with GE Healthcare, www.gehealthcare.com, to create what’s known as an eICU (electronic intensive care unit). The CritiNext eICU is being deployed in 34 ICU beds in two hospitals in India.
The goal is to make specialty critical care accessible and affordable for critically ill patients in small towns in India. The CritiNext eICU makes this possible by allowing patients to interact with doctors even though they may be hundreds of miles away. Patient information is sent to GE’s Centricity High Acuity Care & CritiNext command center in Delhi, where healthcare workers can monitor the realtime data. Patients can be tracked around the clock, and workers at the command center can interact with local physicians using the audio/video capability of the system.
Remote physicians can even receive alerts about a patient’s condition, such as a spike in white blood cells or the beginning of a low-grade fever. Collecting more detailed information about a patient’s condition can lead to a better outcome. All the alerts issued are assembled to create a picture of the patient’s health, and clinical notifications can be viewed later in the paper-based workflow.
eICUs such as CritiNext can put critically ill patients in contact with specialists they may never see otherwise. In remote areas there is often a shortage of critical care staff, and these patients may be too sick to travel to a larger hospital, even if one is within traveling distance.
GE Healthcare says it plans to expand the CritiNext system to two more hospitals in India this summer, and by 2014, a national rollout of the technology will aim to deploy the solution to connect at least 500 ICU beds in 20 hospitals.
As patients around the world need access to more specialized care, solutions such as an eICU may be a viable way to keep costs down while providing first-rate care.