eICU study fails to find clear benefits

Implementing telemedicine monitoring in eight ICUs brought no significant decline in mortality rates or length of stay, according to a study published at JAMA Internal Medicine.

The research compared pre- and post-implementation rates as well as those from control ICUs that did not implement an eICU program. Seven for the participating hospitals were part of the Veterans Affairs healthcare system. The comparison involved nearly 7,000 patients with similar demographics and illnesses.

It found little difference in ICU, in-hospital, or 30-day mortality rates or length of stay.

The New York Times has questioned whether eICUs are really as effective as some studies suggest, noting that some hospitals adopted the technology, then ditched it.

Providers in the U.K. have launched their own pilot of the technology's effectiveness. Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, which has 100 intensive care beds across different sites plans to compare use of Philips telemedicine technology with existing care and with eICU results from the United States.

Despite the high cost for implementing such a program, hospitals could benefit financially and in quality of care delivered, Marshall University research concluded from a review of the literature and relevant case studies.

The evidence, however, is contradictory. A study from Worcester, Massachusetts.-based UMass Memorial Medical Center linked the technology to improved mortality rates and speedier discharge from both the ICU and the hospital.

Northside Medical Center in Youngstown, Ohio, however, had slightly higher mortality rates and slightly longer ICU stays with such a program.

To learn more:
- here's the abstract

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