Tele-ICUs Could Cut Costs for Critical Care Patients, Report Says

Widespread use of telemedicine technology in intensive care units could save 350 patient lives and more than $122 million annually in Massachusetts, according to a study by the New England Healthcare Institute and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, HealthLeaders Media reports.

The report -- titled "Critical Care, Critical Choices: The Case for Tele-ICUs in Intensive Care" -- examined data from a demonstration project at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center and two Massachusetts community hospitals.

The telemedicine technology allows critical care providers to monitor a greater number of ICU patients in several locations from a centralized command center.

Key Findings

According to the report, tele-ICU technology could help health care providers address the growing number of critical care patients and the decreasing supply of physicians who can treat them.

The report found that tele-ICUs:

  • Decreased the length of hospital stays by an average of two days at UMass Memorial;
  • Lowered¬†mortality by 20% at UMass Memorial and by 13% at the community hospitals; and
  • Reduced costs for insurers by $2,600 per patient treated at UMass Memorial.

The hospitals also recovered the upfront investments for the technology within one year, according to the report.

National Implications

NEHI President Wendy Everett said although the study was limited to Massachusetts, the findings could have national implications.

The report authors said, "[W]e must seize the chance to speed the adoption" of tele-ICU technology throughout the U.S. (HealthLeaders Media, 12/13).

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