Covenant Health Announces Tele-ICU Services for Critical Care Patients

Health System is First in Area to Offer Tele-ICU Services; Virtual Support to be Available in All Member Hospitals’ Critical Care Rooms in 2021

Covenant Health, the area’s most comprehensive healthcare delivery system, and Hicuity Health, the nation’s leading provider of high-acuity telemedicine services, have announced the launch of an innovative virtual health initiative that offers a full complement of telehealth services (“tele-ICU”) for patients in intensive care units at Covenant’s member hospitals. Covenant Health is the first health system in East Tennessee to provide tele-ICU services as an extra layer of care for critically ill patients. 

CCU Bedside Care with Tele-ICU
Martin Gibbs, CCRN, tele-ICU nursing manager, is at the patient’s bedside at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center while Covenant Health intensivist and tele-ICU physician leader Dr. Jesse Doers is available for consult on via telehealth.

Tele-ICU is an expansion of existing critical care services and is designed to support the bedside clinical team, ultimately improving patient outcomes and overall quality of care. The initiative includes the opening of a Knoxville telehealth operations center that enables consultation and patient monitoring around the clock through a seamless collaboration of Covenant Health and Hicuity Health critical care nurses and physicians. These professionals work virtually alongside hospital staff to proactively evaluate high acuity patients and anticipate medical needs before they become urgent.

“Our health system is committed to putting our patients first across all aspects of our delivery system,” said Jim VanderSteeg, president and CEO of Covenant Health. “This is especially vital in our critical care areas, where patients facing complex medical conditions need the highest level of care. The partnership between Hicuity Health, its medical staff, and our Covenant Health medical staff will enable our teams to collaborate through state‐of-the‐art technology to provide excellent care for patients in our intensive care units.”

“We introduced tele-ICU services at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in Knoxville, which opened a new critical care unit earlier this year. This innovative patient-centered resource will be available at all of our nine acute care hospitals by the end of 2021, providing additional support and expertise for our medical teams and enhancing local critical care services for our patients,” said Mike Belbeck, executive vice president of operations.

“We’re excited to introduce this added layer of care and support, which will significantly benefit critically ill patients across Covenant Health. We are passionate about improving patient care and clinical outcomes through the implementation of Tele-ICU services,” said Mandy Grubb Halford, MD, senior vice president and chief medical informatics officer for Covenant Health. “Tele-ICU will also tremendously benefit our bedside clinical team by providing continuous access to critical care expertise, augmenting the excellent care we provide every day.”

About Tele-ICU:

  • Each tele-ICU room is equipped with a camera, microphone and monitor that enables two-way communication between the critical care team at the hospital and a remote virtual team located at the secure tele-ICU operations center.
  • The hospital care team can consult with the tele-ICU team by phone or via the camera/monitor in the patient’s room. The camera allows a tele-ICU physician at the remote operations center to see the patient and bedside caregivers at the hospital. The patient and care team at the hospital can see and talk with the tele-ICU physician via a microphone and computer monitor.
  • The camera is activated by the critical care team only when needed, and video/audio communications are never recorded. When the camera is off, it faces the wall and does not capture video or audio.
  • In addition to visual monitoring, the tele-ICU team at the clinical operations center can assess the patient’s condition through remote review of vital signs, lab results and other clinical data.
  • All aspects of tele-ICU operations are secure and comply with federal patient privacy and security regulations.

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