Tele-ICU: the way forward in geriatric care?
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- Hao, JF., Cui, HM., Han, JM. et al. Aging Clin Exp Res (2014) 26: 575. doi:10.1007/s40520-014-0217-z
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Aging population is set to increase in the near future, and will need specialized care when admitted to ICUs. The elderly are beset with chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular, COPD, diabetes, renal complications and depression. Specialist opinions can now be made available through telemedicine facilities. Tele-ICU is a specialized hub consisting of highly skilled staff trained in critical care able to deliver timely, quality care service to patients admitted to ICUs in remote areas using highly advanced information technology services. These specialists in the tele-ICU hub are able to analyze and gather data arriving at timely interventional management decisions and provide this vital feedback to the nursing staff and doctors manning remote ICU locations where specialized intensivist may not be available. Known clinical benefits of such a system include better patient outcomes, reduced medical errors, mortality and reduced hospital length of stay. The main disadvantage in implementation could be the upfront high cost involved, for which low-cost models are being explored. In the face of delivering such remote care, it is up to the local health policy to make legislative changes to include associated legal and ethical issues. Considering the burgeoning aging population, tele-ICU could become the way forward in delivering geriatric critical care.