Hospitals run by the Department of Veterans Affairs are starting to use telehealth technology to better monitor patients in intensive care units, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
VA's efforts are part of growing trend among U.S. hospitals to use cameras and monitoring technology to help guide ICU care.
How Tele-ICU Technology Works
Nurses often find it difficult to monitor multiple critically ill patients simultaneously.
However, a health care provider using telehealth technology can monitor more than 30 ICU patients in several cities at once by viewing live video feeds from a central computer hub.
The monitoring tools allow remote health care providers to receive real-time patient updates, view X-rays and obtain information from a patient's electronic health record.
If the monitoring technology detects potential problems, the computer flashes a red alert to indicate an urgent issue or a yellow alert to indicate a less-urgent issue.
Robert Bonello -- medical director of the tele-ICU project at Minneapolis' VA Medical Center -- said telehealth technology allows small hospitals to receive highly specialized expertise from health care providers working in the central hub.
He added that the tools also can eliminate the need to transfer ICU patients to other facilities for treatment (Lerner, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2/26).