Philips illustrates gains over 15 years with a telehealth-powered 'eICU'

Initially employed to address a shortage of trained specialists, Philips' eICU system grew to help standardize care practices across Health First's four hospitals. (Philips International B.V.)

Philips looked back on 15 years of data from one of its telehealth-equipped intensive care units and found that centralizing operations and vital sign monitoring helped reduce lengths of stay as well as overall mortality.

When it launched in September 2004, Philips’ partnership with Central Florida’s Health First not-for-profit hospital system created the inaugural “eICU” in the state. Dubbed VitalWatch, the connected critical care command center helps oversee 102 intensive care beds across four hospitals from a central location.

There, physicians and nurses can access vital signs in real time and can call up patients’ lab results and electronic medical records. Staff can also direct care through live audio and video feeds to the patient's room if necessary.

Through Philips’ eCareManager telehealth platform for the acute care setting, Health First has also used the centralized hub for insights beyond the ICU. Initially designed to address a shortage of trained intensivists, the system grew to help standardize care practices across the system.

“This partnership has evolved how healthcare is delivered in our hospitals,” said Health First’s chief physician executive and senior vice president, Jeffrey Stalnaker. The program’s expanded clinical operations center also uses analytics to recommend the appropriate care setting for patients, based on their clinical condition.

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“Not only does this technology allow us to provide exceptional care, it gives added comfort to the families who know there is always a compassionate and dedicated healthcare professional continually watching over their loved ones,” Stalnaker said.

Since it opened, the VitalWatch eICU program has seen a 23% reduction in mortality across all four hospitals. The average length of stay for a patient in the ICU dropped by 49%, while lengths of stay throughout the health system decreased by 35%.

The system helps monitor more than 10,000 patients annually, covering about 48,000 interventions each year. All told, the eICU’s staff conducted over 370,000 telemedicine assessments in the past decade and a half and took 62,000 calls from bedside care teams seeking assistance.

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“As patient needs in the ICU become more complex and the clinician shortage continues to affect this department, providing proactive care and spotting deterioration in these patients is becoming more challenging for caregivers—particularly since patient conditions can change so rapidly,” Carla Kriwet, Philips’ chief business leader of connected care, said in a statement.

Today, Philips says that more than 20% of all adult intensive care beds in the U.S.—as well as one out of every eight patients—are monitored by a 24/7 system powered by the company’s eICU platform.

In October, Philips launched its Sentry Score predictive algorithm as an add-on to its eCareManager system, designed to alert ICU staff of the probability a patient will require an intervention within the next hour.