Six community hospitals in Maryland will use grant funds to implement telemedicine technology that enables continuous remote monitoring of intensive care units.
The hospitals have formed Maryland eCare as a parent organization to cooperate in sharing resources to improve critical care in community and rural hospitals. The collaboration will use the technology of the VISICU unit of Philips Healthcare in Andover, Mass.
CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield in Maryland will fund start-up costs during the next three years via a $3 million grant.
VISICU said its eICU technology enables voice, video and data connectivity between intensive care specialists at a remote site and physicians and nurses within an ICU. The specialists can see the same patients and data that clinicians in the ICU see and alert the clinicians to any situation that warrants attention. The specialists also can consult on-demand with ICU clinicians.
Although BlueCross BlueShield is covering start-up costs, participating hospitals will pay $37,000 per ICU bed per year to Christiana Care Health System in Wilmington, Del., for ongoing costs once the program goes live.
The six hospitals total 71 ICU beds. Maryland eCare is also talking with four other hospitals, with a total of 60 ICU beds, about joining the program.
Marc Zubrow, MD, director of critical care medicine at Christiana Care, will become medical director of Maryland eCare.