VisICU: Allows Remote Coverage of ICU By Intensive Care Docs
The start-up company VisICU has a new product that promises to use the Internet, video-conferencing and Web-based diagnostic software to help ICUs "spread their limited resources more efficiently" by allowing fewer intensivists to monitor more patients remotely, the Washington Post reports. Typically, ICU patients are monitored by one intensive care doctor, who works standard daytime hours and is on-call while away from the hospital; the Post notes that it can be difficult for ICU nurses to decide on the course of care when the intensivist is off site. VisICU would address these issues by wiring ICU patient rooms so that vital signs can be electronically transmitted and by equipping all rooms and nursing stations with video-conferencing equipment. Officials say that one intensivist will be able to monitor up to 50 patients in multiple hospitals with this technology, but emphasize that the technology does not obviate the need for on-site physicians -- rather, it will allow intensivists to work with on-site doctors during normal hours and assist nurses at night. VisICU is also developing a Web-based diagnostic tool called CXCN Source that provides assistance with treatment decisions for 150 common ICU conditions. VisICU is working with Sentara Healthcare to monitor 36 ICU beds in two Virginia hospitals and hopes to expand to 150 to 175 beds across the country within the next year. The company was created by Johns Hopkins physicians Michael Breslow and Brian Rosenfeld, who found in a 1997 study that 24-hour intensivist presence in the ICU reduced mortality rates by 55% and slashed patient costs by more than $2,000 (Johnston, Washington Post, 10/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.