A new partnership between Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and Woman’s Hospital is providing around-the-clock assistance to the most critical adult patients at Woman’s Hospital using virtual monitoring of its intensive care units (ICUs).
Using state-of-the-art technology, specially trained critical care physicians and nurses at Our Lady of the Lake have real-time access to each adult ICU patient’s medical chart and vital signs. Special video-conferencing equipment in the ICU rooms allows them to see and communicate with patients, doctors and nurses at Woman’s Hospital.
“By coupling this technology with the bedside expertise at Woman’s Hospital, our patients are receiving the highest level of care possible,” said Patricia Johnson, RN, DNP, Woman’s Hospital chief nursing officer. “This system will not replace the doctors in charge of patient care at Woman’s, but will provide an additional group of clinical experts to closely watch and review the vital signs of our most critical patients every minute of the day.”
“For patients in critical condition, this access can be the difference between life and death,” said Richard W. Kearley, MD, medical director of Critical Care Medicine at Our Lady of the Lake. “Patients and staff now have instant access to critical care experts who can help manage life-threatening complications that can develop suddenly.”
A nationwide shortage of critical care physicians – also known as intensivists – has made it difficult for hospitals around the country to recruit the doctors they need in the ICU. Roughly 13,000 intensivists are practicing today in the U.S., a number that is projected to remain flat as new intensivists are graduating at the same rate as those retiring. The demand for these uniquely trained physicians is expected to rise dramatically over the next 20 years as more of the population ages and requires intensive care.
“It is a significant issue facing the healthcare industry and why more than 360 hospitals in the U.S. are now using Mobile Virtual Critical Care technology to monitor more than 10,000 patient beds,” said Kearley.
The oversight of a critical care physician has been shown to benefit patient care in the ICU with reduced mortality rates, reduced use of ventilators and reduced length of stay.
Our Lady of the Lake is home to Louisiana’s first Mobile Virtual Critical Care (MVCC) site, which has been providing services to ICUs at Our Lady of the Lake since 2004 and at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Gonzales since 2009. Intensivists and critical care nurses working in the MVCC Command Center are using the most sophisticated software and computer systems to receive seamless access to patient records, X-rays and vital signs. In addition, the video-conferencing in the ICUs features high-definition video that can focus in on precise details, such as the dilation of a patient’s eye, to aid in surveying the status of a patient.
Through 24-hour continuous monitoring and management, MVCC doctors and nurses may be able to identify subtle “early warning” signs in patients and communicate timely changes to their care plan to keep them out of danger. Woman’s Hospital staff can also instantly access the MVCC Command Center with one push of an “easy button” to speak with a critical care expert.
“It’s actually faster than if an intensivist was called and had to travel over there,” said Kearley. “Through the virtual monitoring, it only takes seconds to get a hold of the expertise.”
An Our Lady of the Lake intensivist will also visit ICU patients at Woman’s Hospital every day to check on the status of their condition in person.
About Woman’s Hospital
Woman’s is currently one of the largest women’s specialty hospitals in the nation in the United States with 168 licensed adult beds and 72 licensed NICU beds. A private, nonprofit organization, Woman’s mission is to improve the health of women and infants, and is consistently recognized for its innovative programs for women and infants. The 17th largest delivery service in the country and the largest in Louisiana with more than 8,500 annual births, Woman’s performs more than 7,000 surgeries, 44,000 mammograms, and 54,000 pap screens annually.
About Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center
Our Lady of the Lake is a not-for-profit 850-bed medical center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with more than 7,300 employees committed to building a healthy community through excellence in patient care and education. With a Regional Medical Center, dedicated Children’s Hospital, and 300-provider Physician Group, Our Lady of the Lake provides comprehensive healthcare services for common to complex conditions. Our Lady of the Lake is a primary teaching site for graduate medical education programs and is recognized in the areas of heart and vascular, trauma and emergency care, stroke, cancer care, minimally-invasive procedures and more.