Val Stiers, RN closely monitors ICU patients from miles away through OSF's ConstantCare system. This service was recently added at OSF Saint Paul. (Photo contributed)
PEORIA - With a severe shortage of specialized intensivists in the U.S., OSF HealthCare engaged in an innovative way to ensure all of its facilities were equipped to handle the most critical patients no matter where they were located.
In mid-2012, the hospital system developed and rolled out OSF ConstantCare or the eICU, a telehealth hub that provides an extra set of eyes for physicians and nurses taking care of patients with intensive care needs across the organization. The eICU is now celebrating five years of helping OSF save lives, reduce complications, decrease the length of ICU stays and better manage health care costs. The center recently held an open house to share its successes.
OSF ConstantCare uses the latest technology to monitor vitals on critical care patients at a distance and communicates with medical staff when further assessment is needed. The technology platform has been successfully implemented at 10 OSF acute care facilities as well as one hospital outside of the OSF organization.
“We have decreased mortality by over 26 percent since the inception of the program,” said Suzanne Hinderliter, vice president of TeleHealth Services at OSF. “We have decreased our length of stay over 30 percent from our baseline when we started. We have decreased complications across the system in the critical care areas.”
Hinderliter says the results of the eICU program have led to implementations of new monitoring programs including one that helps emergency department staff identify possible septic patients. TeleHealth Services is also focusing efforts on smaller OSF hospitals including OSF Saint Paul MedicalCenter to determine if and when they should transfer certain patients to one of the larger acute care facilities.
“We help manage those beds to ensure the patients with the appropriate needs are getting into the beds that they need to be into, so we can help manage their care in the right way,” she explained.
Hinderliter says the idea is to help patients and their families stay in their communities for critical care, reducing costly transfers and long-distance travel. It also helps OSF remain efficient and effective with organization resources so it can continue to serve all patients with the greatest care and love.