We are excited to share with you the first newsletter of the ICU4Covid project. It presents the vision, the challenges, and the activities during the first year of the project.
Telemedicine in ICU
Univ.Prof. Dr. med. Gernot Marx*,
PD Dr. med. Lukas Martin*
(Janine Meyer-Christodoulou, Anna Christina Boersma)
*Uniklinik Aachen, **Clinomic
Intensive Care Units (ICUs) are facing the challenge of an aging society on the one hand and a shortage of specialized staff on the other hand.
In order to meet this challenge, while maintaining high-quality intensive care close to home, innovative structures come in handy.
One considerable innovation is the use of telemedicine in the ICUs. Telemedicine, as a broad term, can be used to describe overcoming spatial and temporal distances with the help of technologies. Its field of application reaches from consultation hours between doctors and patients to professional consultations amongst physicians only. The latter is applicable in the context of telemedicine in ICUs. This offers the opportunity to digitally connect peripheral hospitals, that might not have all necessary medical expertise in-house, to an expert center in a more central location, assuring 24/7 availability of medical expertise.
Two major scenarios in using telemedicine on ICUs exist: periodic rounding and ad-hoc / emergency consultations. During the digital rounds, patients are presented to the remote physicians and further treatment is discussed on a regular basis, in critical situations the remote experts can offer guidance to the staff on site. Patients benefit in staying close to home while receiving high quality medical care and a reduction in complications. Potential abnormalities can be detected early on and treated accordingly. For medical staff, the second opinion by a remote colleague means stress reduction and quick access to an additional “security layer” if there is no knowledgeable colleague available. In crisis situations, like the COVID-19 pandemic, the knowledge transfer via telemedicine offers efficient use of resources as it increases the bed-capacities.
With ICU4Covid, we are building up a pan-european tele-intensive care network, helping to face today's challenges in the medical field, and ensuring high quality intensive care medicine.