Does Germany need tele-intensive care medicine?
What is the current situation of intensive care medicine
To illustrate the relevance of tele-intensive care it’s crucial to understand the current situation of intensive care medicine first. Intensive care unit (ICU) patients are seriously ill compared to other patients – often between life and death. In situations where all beds in an intensive care unit are already occupied, but one or more new admissions wait, the pressure to find an ICU bed is high; this circumstance has become increasingly common. Due to our aging population structure, one may assume that this situation will not improve. An ICU consumes significantly more resources compared to other areas of a hospital, and has high costs. The situation is exacerbated by the current trend of bed closures due to staff shortages. Personnel suffer from burnout, are more often ill, and often lose sight of patient-oriented tasks due to lack of time. Of note, burnout and staff shortages also affect doctors. The new law defining minimum care standards should ensure sufficient staff, or must require a number of beds above a certain lower limit.
What can tele-intensive care do?
Independent of distance and time, tele-intensive care can bring the expertise of experienced intensive care specialists, in real time, directly to the patient’s bed. Tele-intensive care can thus be seen as a support service. It can also contribute to administration and documentation and thus lessen the burden on on-site personnel. In addition, telemedicine support is able to assist with difficult DRG coding. Though it is well known that following guidelines improves the outcome of critically ill patients, this does not always occur; again, tele-intensive care can contribute to an improvement. To optimize bed allocation, tele-intensive care support can help to identify patients who can be discharged. Telemedicine support in the ICU can thus lead to an improvement in treatment quality.
What does the staff want?
The staff wants an end to work-overload, burnout, administration and extensive documentation. The staff wants time, namely, time for the patient. Nursing staff and doctors are drawn to ICU in order to help patients, and want to deliver good medicine even on weekends or at night.
What do our patients want?
Patients want good, empathic treatment, particularly when it comes to matters of life and death in intensive care. Empathetic treatment depends on doctors and other staff to have time for care and conversation.
Conclusion: Relevance of tele-intensive care
Tele-intensive care will not replace staff, but it can provide needed support. It will give us back the time we need for empathic, high-quality treatment. It’s not about control, it’s about supporting the goals of on-site staff – patients should return to their “normal” lives quickly. A telemedicine physician has access to comprehensive and organized treatment data at a glance; he or she is also not distracted by the usual alarms and problems of an ICU. Telemedicine can help the caregivers at the bedside to again have more time for their patients.
Too find out more about tele-intensive care service by CDS GmbH, visit our Telehealth Competence Center page.