Tele-ICUs Helping More Vets

Last November, the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital located in Chicago held a demonstration for their new Tele-ICU which is a sub-hub for the Central VA ICU Telemedicine System operating under the VA Midwest Health Care Network also known as the Veterans Integrated Service Network or (VISN 23).

Today intensivists are able to integrate multiple technologies using two-way cameras operated remotely, view videos to monitor live streaming measures of heart, lung, blood pressure, and other ICU monitors that are not available to routine bedside care. “Trend analysis of data and smart alarms provide an additional layer of critical care service”, according to Dr. Michael Schwartz, Chief of Clinical Informatics at Hines.

On January 21st, it was announced that the Tele-ICU based at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center is expanding to smaller VA facilities throughout the Midwest thanks to a unique collaboration with Hines.

The Minneapolis VA Tele-ICU opened in 2011 serves medical centers in six states. Since then, the service has expanded to 13 medical centers in nine states. But further expansion has been limited because of a scarcity of qualified intensive care unit physicians.

Because the Chicago area has a larger pool of ICU physicians, the Minneapolis
VA-based Tele-ICU partnered with the HINES VA to establish a Tele-ICU physician office called the “sub-hub.”

The Chicago Hines VA-based physicians have the same camera access to all of the patient data and video screens observed in the Minneapolis location by having video and audio communication with the nurses and patients at hospitals available throughout the region.

Hines VA Hospital has several other telehealth programs including services for mental health. The telemental health program offers outpatient care to satellite clinics, including six
Community-Based Outpatient Clinics affiliates with Hines via telehealth equipment.

Telespeech is also offered at Hines with bimonthly group session held focused on memory, concentration, and organization difficulties as well as general compensatory strategies to help improve these areas. Other services offered at Hines include teleretinal, medication management, and nutrition counseling.


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