electronic intensive care unit (eICU)

An Electronic Intensive Care Unit (eICU) is a form of telemedicine that utilizes state of the art technology to provide an additional layer of critical care service. An eICU support center can provide care to patients in multiple hospitals.

An Electronic Intensive Care Unit (eICU) is a form of telemedicine that uses state of the art technology to provide an additional layer of critical care service. An eICU may also be referred to as a tele-ICU.

An eICU support center can provide care to patients in multiple hospitals. The goal of an eICU initiative is to optimize clinical expertise and facilitate 24-hour-a-day care by ICU caregivers, whether the caregivers are down the hall from the patient that's being monitored or in another city. 

Two-way cameras, video monitors, microphones and smart alarms connected by high speed data lines provide eICU caregivers, who are called intensivists, with real-time patient data around the clock. Intensivists can also communicate with on-site caregivers through dedicated telephone lines. 

eICUs are often funded through a combination of federal and charitable grants in conjunction with private funding. The technology infrastructure provides medical personnel with the ability to track outcomes, both for individual patients and for the medical facility that runs the eICU.   

In the United States, more than 300 hospitals in more than 40 health systems across 34 states take advantage of eICU services. Adoption levels are lower in rural areas but that number is expected to rise as rural health care customers get access to high-speed Internet service.

This was first published in July 2012

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