WORCESTER, Mass. – Health care delivered to critically ill patients in their own homes can improve outcomes and quality of care, as well as reduce costs to health systems, said Dr. Craig Lilly, director and founder of the eICU program at UMassMemorial Medical Center.
Digital and connected platforms and devices are making it possible.
“These tools are evolving today and it’s a really exciting time to be engaged in medicine in general, and telemedicine in particular,” Lilly said in a recorded session at the CHEST annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians last month in Toronto.
Through the eICU program at UMassMemorial, specially trained nurses and physicians monitor critically ill patients in their homes around the clock using digital health tools to detect subtle changes in vital signs before they become apparent. The health care team uses computer terminals to view the patient’s health data, medical records and lab tests, and receive alerts when the patient’s condition changes. If an alert is received, the physician can activate a video camera at the patient’s bedside to visually check their condition, then alert the on-site nurse.
Lilly conducted a series of four studies last year that included more than 50,000 ICU patients, comparing a traditional ICU with an eICU. His research found that eICU delivered in the home can increase case volume and better utilize existing resources.
“The ability of teleICU programs to increase case volume and access to high quality critical care, while improving margins, suggests a strong financial argument for wider adoption of ICU telemedicine by health systems and intensivists,” he said.
Lilly said the eICU program at UMassMemorial has shown the greatest improvements in the reduced length of stay for more complex patients.
“It’s really a matter of having a lot of information, being able to identify patients that can benefit from your expertise, and then getting in and figuring out what can and can’t be done for them sooner using these technological resources,” he said.