Healthcare News & Insights

2 ways technology is improving ICU patients’ care, experience

Technology is improving patients’ experience and care at hospitals every day. Facilities can take advantage of many different options to boost outcomes and satisfaction, especially regarding some of its most vulnerable patients in intensive care. 

ThinkstockPhotos-173714648In particular, two of these advancements  – telemedicine and virtual “visits” – can be just the features your hospital’s intensive care unit can implement to give itself an edge over other competing facilities.

Telehealth bolsters care

Advances in telemedicine technology are transforming the way patients in the ICU are receiving care, according to a survey in this month’s American Journal of Critical Care. Researchers asked ICU nurses about their perceptions of telehealth’s effect on care delivery, and more than 1,200 responded.

The majority of participants (79.2%) said telemedicine in the ICU helps nurses improve patient care. Most (75.2%) also agreed that telehealth technology is useful for their job.

Other benefits most nurses attributed to telemedicine in the ICU were:

  • ability to accomplish tasks more quickly (63%)
  • improved collaboration (65.9%)
  • improved job performance (63.6%)
  • improved communication (60.4%), and
  • useful in nursing assessments (60%).

Nurses use telemedicine for a variety of duties related to patient care in the ICU, from monitoring trends in vital signs and providing medical management to detecting arrhythmias and preventing falls.

Since more payors are starting to recognize telemedicine as a service that’s eligible for reimbursement, your hospital may be able to take advantage of this technology in your facility’s ICU to improve patient outcomes.

Virtual visits maintain bonds

Other uses of technology in the ICU aren’t as directly related to patient care, but they still improve patients’ experience – and can boost patient satisfaction scores.

Example: One hospital is using consumer teleconferencing technology to enhance the bond between vulnerable newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit and their families.

At Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center in Wisconsin, parents are now able to use Skype, Google Hangouts or FaceTime to see their babies as they receive care in the NICU after their mothers have been discharged from the hospital.

The new system is described in detail in an article from The Sheboygan Press.

Aurora Sheboygan came up with the idea after seeing how other facilities allowed patients to receive virtual “visits” from friends and family members through videoconferencing. Nursing staff wanted to make sure parents who weren’t able to physically make the trip to see their babies every day could at least interact with them from off site.

After working out issues with privacy and security, Aurora Sheboygan rolled out its videoconferencing service at the end of 2015. Along with the babies’ parents, two other people are allowed to connect to the hospital’s system with parental permission.

Right now, only a few hospitals in the country offer these virtual visits, but they’ve proven popular with families, who enjoy the chance to stay connected when an in-person visit isn’t possible (or if it’s difficult due to the critical nature of the patient’s condition).

More and more people have access to devices that would allow them to use a videoconferencing system to interact with a loved one in the hospital. Implementing a similar system could be an excellent opportunity to make hospital stays more patient-centered, which may end up improving your facility’s patient satisfaction scores.

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