Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Philips' eICU technology saved Emory $4.6M, CMS report finds

Patients in the intensive care unit need a lot of specialized monitoring, and physician shortages and high costs can create barriers in delivering consistently quality care in hospitals. But implementing a telehealth program can fill these gaps, reduce readmissions and save hospitals millions, says a new report commissioned by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The report, which was conducted by Abt Associates on CMS’s behalf, looked at the implementation of an eICU program at Emory Healthcare. Starting in 2014, the hospital system deployed Royal Philips’ telehealth platform  – which combines audiovisual technology, predictive analytics and advanced reporting capabilities – to five hospitals across Georgia. The system enables 24/7 access to intensivists (critical care specialist physicians) who are in short supply generally and are typically unavailable at nights and weekends.  
The eICU program was developed with a goal to expand critical care services in the face of nationwide shortages of these specialized physicians. The program was made possible by a $10.7 million award Emory landed from CMS in 2012, and started with a critical care residency program to train affiliate providers.

Over 15 months, 8,019 patients were cared for by Emory eICU, and more than 60 percent of those patients were federal beneficiaries. According to the report, the telehealth technology saved Emory $4.6 million  – or $1,486 in Medicare spending per patient. Savings came in several forms, and were especially pronounced at the two larger hospitals, which served the most severely ill patients and thus had higher care costs. The biggest benefit was the ability for specialists to quickly respond and intervene at dangerous situations during the night rather than waiting for the regular ICU doctors to return in the morning. Additionally, the eICU platform was credited with bringing problems to the attention of bedside staff that would have otherwise gone undetected.
This is good news for telemedicine, as there has been recent criticism that there is little return on investment in telemedicine.  This appraisal has largely been for the outpatient environment. Inpatient medicine is quite different, when specialists that are in short supply (such as intensivists) or other emergency requirements in the emergency rooms for cardiology and neurology/neurosurgery. By using telemedicine one specialist can be available to several hospitals simultaneously independent of distance.

 The eICU program is a transformational critical care telehealth program that combines A/V technology, predictive analytics, data visualization and advanced reporting capabilities with Philips’ expertise and over 15 years of proven success. The eICU program delivers need-to-know information to caregivers, empowering them to care for the patients who need it most in the moments that matter most. It is a supplement—not a replacement—to the bedside team, offering support to increasingly scarce clinical resources, while reducing mortality, lengths of stay and cost of care. 

For many smaller hospitals it allows access to more specialists, on demand without having to have a full time presence.

Philips' eICU technology saved Emory $4.6M, CMS report finds

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