A remotely located electronic ICU, or "eICU", is staffed by intensivists and critical care nurses who provide around-the-clock (24x7) monitoring and care of ICU patients at participating hospitals throughout a region. Video conferencing, integrated clinical information, and decision support provide the tools which allow clinicians in the eICU to be in direct voice and video communication with the staff at participating hospitals and to assist in care delivery.
VISICU's Smart Alarms module receives data from multiple bedside monitors and devices, and processes these data through a series of proprietary algorithms. The data are evaluated for physiologic thresholds and trends which can be customised for each patient. Laboratory and medication information is also received from VISICU's Electronic Patient Record (ARGUS) and evaluated via patient-specific proprietary branch chain logic.
Alarms are presented on a dedicated monitor in the eICU, providing clinicians with visual cues that allow them to pro-actively respond to emerging problems. According to Brian Rosenfeld, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of VISICU: "This fundamentally changes our ability to manage ICU patients. With Smart Alarms added to our technology suite, we can now track physiologic trends and intervene before problems arise. We can deliver more effective care."
Smart Alarms have been implemented at VISICU's eICU in Norfolk, Virginia, where care is being provided to fifty patients, across five ICUs at three Sentara Healthcare hospitals, a six-hospital system. Rod Hochman, M.D., the Senior Vice-President of Medical Affairs at Sentara, explained: "When we first implemented VISICU's CXCN programme, we knew we would dramatically improve ICU care at our hospitals, and we have. With the Smart Alarms capability, we have taken care to a higher level than even we expected."
Clinicians at the eICU also believe that care will be improved with the introduction of Smart Alarms. "I feel like an air traffic controller now, who can see all 50 patients and their respective flight paths", stated Gene Burke, M.D., Sentara Medical Group intensivist. "This will enable me to provide the most comprehensive, continuous care possible."
VISICU is a venture-backed company founded in 1998 by two intensivists from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, with over 30 years experience. VISICU's CXCN programme addresses the timely issues of medical errors, patient safety, ICU staffing, and escalating health care costs, as highlighted by the Institute of Medicine reports and the recommendations of the LeapFrog Group. More VISICU news is available in the VMW July 2001 article Experts from UC Davis Medical Center to partner in VISICU's virtual intensive care unit.