We are excited to share with you the second newsletter of the ICU4Covid project. It presents the inputs and outputs of the project as well as where the project vision is headed.
The widespread of Telehealth within ICU4Covid
Univ.Prof. Dr. med. Gernot Marx*, PD Dr. med. Lukas Martin**
(Janine Meyer-Christodoulou, Anna Christina Boersma)
*Uniklinik Aachen, **Clinomic
The project ICU4Covid came to life as a rapid response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Amongst others its goal was to establish a telemedical network across Europe with a two fold use:
On the one hand was the creation of regional ICU-Hubs, aiming to support smaller and peripheral hospitals that often face shortage of medical staff. In order to do so a central hospital, usually a university hospital or specialized clinic, with great medical coverage, is connected to multiple peripheral hospitals and performs regular telemedical rounds. Providing medical expertise remotely to the doctors on site of the peripheral hospitals offers the opportunity to make use of the bed capacity, which is of utmost importance especially in situations like the Covid-19 pandemic.
The second idea of the project is that the network will enable cross border exchange and thus facilitate knowledge transfer and best practices amongst the different countries and partners.
Now the project runtime of two years has almost passed it is time to investigate the results - those are quite remarkable: Telemedicine is running across Europe and the network is growing.
The hospitals have found further helpful ways in the use of telemedicine. Aside from the suggested use cases - a local network and cross-border collaboration – the hospitals are also using telemedicine internally for either training purposes of residents or nursing staff or for facilitated consultations across different specialties within the hospitals’ units.
One specific success story that is worth highlighting is the creation of the Romanian network within an exceptionally short timeframe of less than one year. Not only did the central hospital acquire additional peripheral hospitals for the network, but they quickly learned about the recommended standards and workflows of telemedicine with the help of an experienced cross-border project partner. Currently they are in the phase of transferring the gained knowledge into their network of 5 hospitals and establishing a telemedical routine within the Romanian network, while the rounding with the German partner continues.
Additionally, there is a strong hub-structure in place in Germany with one central hospital and 5 spokes hospitals. These hospitals usually perform the rounds on a daily basis. Furthermore, the German central hospital is also connected to most of the other European clinical partners. Aside from the above-mentioned Romanian partners they perform regular rounds with two Greek hospitals, a Latvian partner and are in preparation to start the rounding with Austrian hospitals as well.
Looking at these outstanding results, that were achieved facing multiple Covid-19 waves and a relatively short timeline to implement the technology and new workflows in a complex system such as an ICU, one can only imagine what the next years of further collaboration and expansion of the network will bring.