Technology and health care intersect once again as Houston Methodist launches its first virtual ICU (vICU) on Monday, March 16 in the Walter Tower neurosurgical ICU at HMH. The program is planned to expand to the remaining units at HMH by the first half of this year and will eventually support more than 300 ICU beds systemwide.
As a remote monitoring and alert system, the vICU:
• Tracks and trends real-time patient data
• Enables initiation of earlier interventions by bedside care
• Provides additional overnight coverage by CCRNs and intensivists
• Utilizes predictive analytics to enhance report capabilities
From a new vICU Operations Center in Smith Tower, experienced critical care nurses work overnight (from 7 p.m to 7 a.m.) monitoring up to 40 patients each. Meanwhile, virtual MDs, highly trained in tele-critical care and specializing in cardiovascular, anesthesiology, pulmonary and infectious diseases, work remotely to care for patients with potentially life-threatening conditions.
Using detailed physiological monitoring stations, complex patient risk scoring and live audio/video feeds in patient rooms, the vICU team monitors patients’ vital signs, reviews laboratory test results and conducts virtual rounds. They support ICU staff at the bedside by identifying critical patient changes that need immediate attention and work in collaboration with bedside providers to stabilize the patient.