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What are Tele-ICU Services?

Tele-ICU services represent a new advancement in medicine. Covenant Health is the first healthcare system in East Tennessee to provide this service as an extra layer of care for critically ill patients.

Our Covenant Health tele-ICU medical providers are intensivists (doctors with special training in critical care) and highly trained specialists who use telehealth technology to partner with our bedside clinical care teams. This means your hospital physicians, registered nurses and respiratory therapist have access to an experienced tele-ICU critical care physician at all times. Through round-the-clock consultation and monitoring vital signs, labs and overall health, our tele-ICU team works virtually alongside our hospital staff, anticipating medical needs before they become urgent.

No matter where you live in East Tennessee, tele-ICU technology allows you and your family to receive excellent critical care services at your local Covenant Health hospital. Medical literature also shows that critical care patients have better outcomes, including lower risks of death and shorter ICU and hospital stays, when the patient’s hospital bedside team is supported by tele-ICU clinical staff.1

Frequently Asked Questions

No. Your doctor will still care for you and be in charge of your care. We understand the personal relationship between you and your bedside physician is an essential part of your overall care and recovery. Our tele-ICU physicians and clinical staff support your physician and nurses at your bedside by monitoring your health and alerting them to any changes in your condition.

Our intensive care rooms are equipped with a camera, microphone and monitor for two-way communication between your hospital care team and our virtual tele-ICU staff. Your vital signs, such as your heart rate and oxygen levels, are monitored by your hospital caregivers and the tele-ICU clinical staff. This combination of in-person bedside care and tele-ICU monitoring allows for earlier detection and treatment of medical changes.

At times, the tele-ICU physician or staff also will need to evaluate you by visually monitoring your appearance. When this happens, you will hear a chime (similar to a doorbell) to alert you the camera is being activated and is turning in the direction of your bed. You will also see a tele-ICU clinical staff member on the monitor, and they will be able to see you on their screen at the tele-ICU operations center.

Here are additional facts about the camera:
• When off, the camera faces the wall and does not capture video or audio.
• If a patient needs visual monitoring at night, the camera is dimmed to promote restful healing without interrupting sleep.
• The bedside medical team and family members can contact tele-ICU staff at any time by pressing the tele-ICU button on the wall. A tele-ICU critical care specialist will typically respond within one minute.
• The camera system is secure and complies with all federal patient privacy and security standards. Video and audio communications are never recorded.
• Most communication about your care between hospital and tele-ICU staff is conducted over the telephone.

Our tele-ICU staff includes Covenant Health credentialed, board-certified physicians, critical care-certified registered nurses with at least five years of ICU experience and technology support staff.  The team follows all federal patient privacy and security regulations. Your health information is protected and shared only with your tele-ICU and bedside care teams. 

Our tele-ICU Operations Center is located in Knoxville, which allows us to support critical care services at all Covenant Health hospitals throughout East Tennessee.

Still have questions? We’re here to help.

If you have any additional questions about tele-ICU services, please talk with your bedside medical team.

1- Source: studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and conducted by the New England Healthcare Institute