Electronic Health Records

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eICU Telehealth Data Allows Clinical Analytics for Researchers

By Jennifer Bresnick

Telehealth is mostly viewed as a quick way to review a skin rash with a physician through video conferencing or text messaging, not as a source of rich and comprehensive patient data for clinical analytics.  But a new project coming out of MIT hopes to change that.  In conjunction with the Philips Hospital to Home e-ICU telemedicine program, the Laboratory of Computational Physiology at the MIT Institute for Medical Engineering and Science will dive into data on more than 100,000 patients who have experienced a stay in intensive care, allowing scientists to analyze what happens in the e-ICU in extraordinary detail.

“Researchers are always looking for better, more accurate and comprehensive data that enables a holistic representation of the patient experience,” said Leo Anthony Celi of MIT. “The quality and resolution of the data Philips has been collecting in the critical care domain is unprecedented. This kind of access will provide researchers with data that will enable investigations otherwise unimaginable.”

e-ICU care is becoming more popular with organizations that can survey a large number of patients from a centralized command center, allowing for speedier alerts when a patient’s condition changes, often backed by predictive analytics infrastructure.   At the Sisters of Mercy Health System, Wendy Diebert, NR, BSN, Vice President of Telehealth Services, explains that remote monitoring of ICU patients from a single location allows the health system to keep tabs on more patients across a large geographic region.

“Currently, we cover about 450 tele-ICU beds across our state, 15 hospitals and 28 ICU/step-down units,” she said to EHRintelligence in June.  On an average, we’ve got about 10 to 12 nurses working a shift, along with two physicians during the day and three physicians at night that really back up and support that group. We have about 70 to 75 telehealth projects running right now.”

All of that patient care generates a great deal of information that has the potential to provide researchers with new insights into improvements in the quality and delivery of critical care.  Philips’ telehealth data network covers about ten percent of the nation’s adult ICU beds, according to the press release, and collects data on everything from basic vital signs to pharmacy orders to illness severity scores.  The anonymized data goes far beyond what has previously been available to researchers through insurance claims, and will be available through a secure database with the MIT lab serving as a central hub for development and access.

“We’re proud to be leading the charge in the industry by opening up our data to independent researchers to allow them to conduct more meaningful analyses related to critical care medicine,” added Derek Smith, senior vice president, Hospital to Home, Philips Healthcare. “This initiative will make it easier for researchers to share methods and findings, bypassing the need to reinvent the wheel with each new research project. We hope this will lead to better, faster breakthroughs—and ultimately better medicine.”

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