Allegheny Health Network (AHN) and Highmark Health have introduced TeleICU, a virtual intensive care solution that uses telehealth technology and AHN intensivists’ expertise.

The programme is being used for the continuous monitoring of critically ill patients at six hospitals in western Pennsylvania.

It connects a centrally located team of AHN board-certified critical care physicians, nurses and data assistants with intensive care bedside hospitalists and nurses at AHN’s community-based hospitals.

Using advanced telehealth software and clinical algorithms, the programme enables uninterrupted ICU monitoring and informed decision-making.

AHN pulmonary, critical care, sleep and allergy medicine division chief Dr Tariq Cheema said: “The extra layer of care afforded by our virtual ICU model has provided clinicians across AHN with unprecedented support in the management of critically ill patients, while also enabling patients to more comfortably stay at hospitals closer to home.

“With the launch of TeleICU, we are pleased to transition our virtual ICU service fully in-house, extending the expertise of our own intensivists across the network and further enhancing the quality of care that we provide.”

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Allegheny cited research indicating that patients receiving telemedicine ICU services may have reduced mortality rates and shorter hospital stays than those receiving traditional ICU care without onsite intensivist support.

The TeleICU command centre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, operates alongside other AHN virtual care initiatives such as the Digital Nursing Program and Virtual Sitter.

In addition, the location houses a One-Call Center that doctors can call 24/7 to request referrals, emergency admissions and patient transfers between facilities.

AHN chief digital information officer Ashis Barad said: “This facility has emerged as a virtual health hub that is host to some of the most advanced technologies and tools which support our caregivers and staff in delivering high-quality patient care, helping to improve outcomes and enhance the overall health care experience for both patients and their caregivers.”