Shreveport VA has introduced Veteran patients to a new form of critical care that expands on the traditional Intensive Care Unit model. This new structure is based on Telehealth and is known as TeleCritical Care.
Physicians and nurses from connected parts of the country can join simultaneously, offer discussions and control a camera. The clarity is remarkable enough to allow critical care specialists to see or identify areas of concern based on the detail needed.
“Amazing to see intensive care physicians in two different states immediately respond.”
“TeleCritical Care offers 24-hour care at the push of a button,” says Kristine Miller, the operations and nurse manager for VA’s TeleCritical Care West hub based at the Minneapolis VA.
Pictured above, facilitators from Minneapolis VA provide training to a member of the critical care staff at the Shreveport VA. An intensivist from the TeleCritical Care West hub in Minneapolis answers questions and provides an overview of its capabilities.
A Minneapolis team of critical care specialists has spent the last several months in Shreveport helping test the sophisticated equipment, install software, and hard wire 20 rooms capable of providing TeleCritical Care. The team also offered face-to-face and one-on-one training for Shreveport’s ICU care teams.
Physicians in two states immediately respond
“TeleCritical Care has transformed the ICU to allow continuity of critical care with licensed intensivists and critical-care nurses using live audio and video,” said Matthew Goede, the medical director for the western-based TeleCritical Care hub in Minneapolis.
“We have learned, especially over the last many months, that we must embrace technology,” said Richard Crockett, Shreveport Medical Center director. “Seeing is believing. When the ICU nurse pushed the call button, it was amazing to see intensive care physicians in two different states immediately respond. Having this Telehealth technology at our medical center is a proud moment in Shreveport VA history.”
The arrangement of hi-tech equipment appears as simple as any webcam experience. But there is so much more.
TeleCritical Care – 24-hour care at the push of a button.
The technology allows staff to monitor blood pressure, heart rate and lab results. Intensivists can prescribe medications, order tests or procedures, make diagnoses, and discuss health care with patients and family members.
“At the push of a button, any member of the ICU team can receive on-demand critical care from an intensivist or ICU nurse,” Miller illustrated. “The hi-resolution camera produces excellent imagery and audio for a one-on-one experience long distance.”
Another safety barrier for an organization focused on high reliability
Currently, Minneapolis serves as the central network for VA’s TeleCritical Care. Seasoned intensivists and nurses in locations such as Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Iowa City have the knowledge and ability to serve as on-call TeleCritical Care specialists from thousands of miles away.
Goede points out, “VA has taken the TeleCritical lead and we expect to have the largest TeleCritical Care System in the world when all VA hospitals that have opted in and are online. Within moments you can get an intensivist at the bedside.”
The inclusion of TeleCritical Care upgrades any ICU and adds another safety barrier for an organization focused on high reliability. The added layer of support improves care and allows the Shreveport VA’s ICU to offer the best possible outcome.
Shannon Arledge is a public affairs officer with the Shreveport VA.