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Critical Care Telemedicine Services

Like other specialties, critical care teams can use telemedicine. But some ICU doctors (also called intensivists) use it differently than other doctors.

TeleICU, part of the UPMC Acute Care Operations Center, is a provider-to-provider telemedicine service.

Doctors and staff working in the ICU who aren't intensivists use telehealth for consults with doctors who are.

Even though patients aren't the ones using this video technology, they still benefit from it.

About TeleICU at UPMC

TeleICU started in March 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

More people were going on breathing machines (ventilators). The UPMC hospitals taking care of them didn't always have an intensivist in the ICU during the night.

If ICU staff needed a consult, they would have to wake up the intensivist, who had just worked a long shift.

The telehealth program gives attending doctors, nurses, and other non-intensivist staff prompt access to an ICU doctor at night. That way, the intensivist who worked all day in the ICU can rest and be ready for the next shift.

Who Uses TeleICU?

At first, many of the health care working using telehealth were caring for Covid patients. ICU providers now use the video service for non-Covid patients as well.

UPMC's teleICU isn't run by 1 hospital. Instead, doctors from many departments work together to provide their expertise virtually.

Hospitals throughout the UPMC system can leverage teleICU when they need critical care expertise that they don't have locally.

TeleICU at UPMC by the numbers:

  • About 2 dozen intensivists staff the teleICU. There's always 1 on any given shift.
  • The teleICU program serves 16 UPMC hospitals.
  • There are about a dozen consults each night.
  • There were more than 1,300 consults in the 1st year.
  • A common consult is about using a breathing machine. Video lets the critical care expert make sure settings are correct because it can be hard to describe over the phone.

How Critical Care Telemedicine Helps Patients

TeleICU offers patients and their loved ones peace of mind.

If your loved one is in an ICU without a night intensivist, teleICU offers:

  • Instant access to night intensivists. These specially trained critical care medicine doctors are always a video call away.
  • Ventilator expertise. Having a loved one on a breathing machine is stressful. Intensivists are experts in caring for people on these machines. They're ready to answer any and all questions from ICU staff.
  • Seamless care. The intensivist on call has immediate access to the patient's entire medical record. No care details get lost.

Learn More About Telehealth at UPMC