Report: The value of remote ICU monitoring is unclear

We hinted last week about a new study questioning the efficacy of remote ICU monitoring as a way to cut costs and improve quality, but the story was under embargo at the time. Now we can report that clinical leaders hold strong opinions of the technology, even though they have little scientific proof to support their positions.

Researchers from the Center for Studying Health System Change, writing in Health Affairs, report that 9 percent of ICU beds in the U.S. have some kind of advanced telemonitoring technology, generally referred to as an "eICU," though that term actually is a trademark of Philips Healthcare. "There was broad perception among eICU users that the systems improved quality and safety in many ways, including providing additional sets of eyes and improved emergency response. But there were no objective data to support those beliefs," the article says. They did acknowledge problems integrating data collected in the ICU with other hospital IT systems.

Those without eICU monitoring generally found that potential benefits of the technology were not enough to offset the cost, particularly since few payers reimburse for such services.

"Proponents and detractors of eICUs feel strongly that their assessments are correct," HSC Senior Consulting Researcher Dr. Robert A. Berenson told Healthcare IT News. "But without a rigorous assessment, who knows which side is right?"

The study said that the the lack of evidence highlights the need for comparative effectiveness research to include entire categories of technology, and not just specific drugs, medical devices or services.

For further details:
- read the Health Affairs article
- check out this Healthcare IT News piece