Insights from the Editor

Remote Patient Monitoring Systems May Help Overstressed ICUs

eICUNew technologies in remote patient monitoring have the potential to combat soaring healthcare costs and personnel shortages, and reduce hospitalization times, according to Kalorama Information. In its report, Remote and Wireless Patient Monitoring Markets, the healthcare market research firm values the U.S. market for remote patient monitoring at $7.1 billion in 2010 and forecasts an annual growth rate of 25.4%, reaching $22.2 billion by 2015. The report details one area of remote patient monitoring that is blossoming, the 'eICU' or 'tele-ICU.'

Due to the predicted shortages of intensivists, cardiologists and nurses in the U.S. in the next 5 to 10 years, the concept of these eICU systems in a critical care setting is growing. The Swedish Medical Center in Seattle has been in the vanguard with the adoption of an eICU, according to Kalorama's report. This medical center installed the Visicu (Philips Healthcare) electronic ICU, which allows intensivists and critical care nurses at the eICU command center to make virtual rounds of patients through an elaborate network of cameras, monitors, and two-way communication links via T1 lines. Another facility, Sentara Healthcare in Norfolk, Virginia, also installed an eICU program and has reported that it reduced intensive care mortality rates by 25% and shortened the average length of stay for patients in the eICU setting by 17%. In this example, per patient costs dropped $2,150 based on reduced patient expenses and increased ICU capacity, generating approximately $3 million in savings for the facility.

With an eICU intensivists can remotely monitor the condition of patients, check vital signs, and communicate with hospital personnel, patients and their families in multiple locations from one command center. It should help to relieve stress on cardiologists, critical care physicians and nurses.

Philips' Visicu is just one of many systems hospitals are purchasing for remote patient monitoring. Products by Draeger AG, GE Healthcare and Abbott are among those featured in Kalorama’s report and figure into their market numbers.

More information is available from Kalorama Information's report, Remote and Wireless Patient Monitoring Markets, including market forecasts, company profiles and product offerings, and trends in the industry. The report covers equipment and applications for wireless and remote patient monitoring, for processing data, and for transferring patient monitoring data into an EMR.

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