ICU: Innovations are leading to better patient outcomes

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | December 17, 2015
From the December 2015 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

It’s well-known in the industry that there is a shortage of staff in the ICU. In addition, critical care costs in the U.S. are as high as $80 billion to $100 billion per year and the demand for critical care services is growing more rapidly than the supply of these services, according to the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

Many hospitals including the Mayo Clinic and Saint Luke’s Health System in Missouri believe that electronic ICUs (eICUs) are the solution to the problem. Vital signs, medications, blood test results, X-rays and other data from bedside monitors are sent to a central workstation so the ICU staff can remotely monitor each patient. The staff can also monitor and speak to patients with high-quality cameras and audio monitors that are installed in the patients’ rooms. In addition, computer systems continuously analyze the data and alert staff if a patient is deteriorating.

A University of Massachusetts Medical School study investigated the impact that Philips Healthcare’s eICU Program had on almost 120,000 critical care patients across 56 ICUs, 32 hospitals and 19 health systems over the course of five years. The researchers found that 26 percent of the patients were more likely to survive in the ICU, they were discharged from the ICU 20 percent faster and 16 percent were more likely to survive hospitalization and be discharged.

Addressing ventilator issues
Ventilator induced lung injury (VILI) is a major problem in the ICU — 24 percent of all patients who are mechanically ventilated will develop VILI for reasons other than acute lung injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome. “Those ventilator-induced injuries are reportable and are a huge focus for customers to make sure they are on top of proper weaning, and managing the ventilating of their patients in the ICU,” says Kathy Forde, product manager of Life Care Solutions at GE Healthcare.

GE’s CARESCAPE R860 ventilator, which received FDA approval in July, was designed to address that issue. It’s equipped with lung protection tools that make sure that the different zones of the lung receive the treatment they need. With the CARESCAPE R860, clinicians can measure lung volume, possible lung recruitability, the capability of the lung alveoli to open and titrate the right pressure in the lungs after exhalation. Its breathing trial mode helps clinicians determine which patients don’t require further ventilation, as prolonged mechanical ventilation can cause complications.

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