With the recent Ebola outbreak fresh on the minds of many, telehealth could be an important solution in the government’s arsenal of tools to quickly and effectively manage a unified and coordinated response to any communicable disease crisis.
Keeping caregivers out of harm’s way as much as humanly possible may reduce the risk of local epidemic complications. We’re working with a well-respected university hospital, which was named HHS partner for education/training in communicable diseases, to help build-out a 3-5 bed communicable disease unit that will include remote control of medication infusion pumps and Philips ventilators. If this type of unit could be established at each of the over 400 hospitals monitored today by eICU centers, the potential impact could be significant.
The likely benefits of these units could be to:
- Minimize caregiver/patient interaction, thereby reducing the chance for disease transmission
- Shorten time that caregivers must wear hot and dehydrating protective clothing to reduce the chance for errors
- Use cameras in the ante-room to observe isolation precautions to ensure that staff use proper technique
- Ability to enable loved ones and non-suited personnel to communicate with patients in isolation
- Ability to collect data in near real-time across all isolation units for direct transmission to CDC/NIH
- Provide CDC/NIH remote access into all isolation rooms
We believe that creation of a country-wide set of isolation beds in major metropolitan areas for care of patients with pandemic/epidemic communicable diseases could help aid in the government’s ability to deal with future communicable situations and provide distributed surge capacity for these events.
The opportunities for telehealth are expanding.