The Research Agenda in ICU Telemedicine A Statement From the Critical Care Societies Collaborative

Department of Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.
Chest (Impact Factor: 7.48). 07/2011; 140(1):230-8. DOI: 10.1378/chest.11-0610
Source: PubMed


ICU telemedicine uses audiovisual conferencing technology to provide critical care from a remote location. Research is needed to best define the optimal use of ICU telemedicine, but efforts are hindered by methodological challenges and the lack of an organized delivery approach. We convened an interdisciplinary working group to develop a research agenda in ICU telemedicine, addressing both methodological and knowledge gaps in the field. To best inform clinical decision-making and health policy, future research should be organized around a conceptual framework that enables consistent descriptions of both the study setting and the telemedicine intervention. The framework should include standardized methods for assessing the preimplementation ICU environment and describing the telemedicine program. This framework will facilitate comparisons across studies and improve generalizability by permitting context-specific interpretation. Research based on this framework should consider the multidisciplinary nature of ICU care and describe the specific program goals. Key topic areas to be addressed include the effect of ICU telemedicine on the structure, process, and outcome of critical care delivery. Ideally, future research should attempt to address causation instead of simply associations and elucidate the mechanism of action in order to determine exactly how ICU telemedicine achieves its effects. ICU telemedicine has significant potential to improve critical care delivery, but high-quality research is needed to best inform its use. We propose an agenda to advance the science of ICU telemedicine and generate research with the greatest potential to improve patient care.

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    • "Our subgroup analysis did not confirm a differential effect between these types of systems, even when the advanced-technology group was restricted to active systems with continuous patient-data monitoring and alerts. In addition to lack of statistical power in this analysis, the interventions used in included studies may have been misclassified because of the lack of a commonly adopted conceptual framework and vocabulary to describe components of the intervention, the intensity with which they were deployed, and the clinical actions attributable to their deployment [37]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction Telemedicine extends intensivists' reach to critically ill patients cared for by other physicians. Our objective was to evaluate the impact of telemedicine on patients' outcomes. Methods We searched electronic databases through April 2012, bibliographies of included trials, and indexes and conference proceedings in two journals (2001 to 2012). We selected controlled trials or observational studies of critically ill adults or children, examining the effects of telemedicine on mortality. Two authors independently selected studies and extracted data on outcomes (mortality and length of stay in the intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital) and methodologic quality. We used random-effects meta-analytic models unadjusted for case mix or cluster effects and quantified between-study heterogeneity by using I2 (the percentage of total variability across studies attributable to heterogeneity rather than to chance). Results Of 865 citations, 11 observational studies met selection criteria. Overall quality was moderate (mean score on Newcastle-Ottawa scale, 5.1/9; range, 3 to 9). Meta-analyses showed that telemedicine, compared with standard care, is associated with lower ICU mortality (risk ratio (RR) 0.79; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.65 to 0.96; nine studies, n = 23,526; I2 = 70%) and hospital mortality (RR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.73 to 0.94; nine studies, n = 47,943; I2 = 72%). Interventions with continuous patient-data monitoring, with or without alerts, reduced ICU mortality (RR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.64 to 0.95; six studies, n = 21,384; I2 = 74%) versus those with remote intensivist consultation only (RR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.20 to 2.07; three studies, n = 2,142; I2 = 71%), but effects were statistically similar (interaction P = 0.74). Effects were also similar in higher (RR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.68 to 1.02) versus lower (RR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.40 to 1.19; interaction, P = 0.53) quality studies. Reductions in ICU and hospital length of stay were statistically significant (weighted mean difference (telemedicine-control), -0.62 days; 95% CI, -1.21 to -0.04 days and -1.26 days; 95% CI, -2.49 to -0.03 days, respectively; I2 > 90% for both). Conclusions Telemedicine was associated with lower ICU and hospital mortality among critically ill patients, although effects varied among studies and may be overestimated in nonrandomized designs. The optimal telemedicine technology configuration and dose tailored to ICU organization and case mix remain unclear.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · Critical care (London, England)

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