Atlanta, GA – As you lie in the stiff hospital bed, you notice that it’s 3AM. Your wife is just inches away, asleep on a cramped foldaway bed. Your head is still spinning from the heat stroke you suffered yesterday in the scorching Atlanta sun. Out of nowhere, you notice that the beeping of some monitor has picked up its pace, and a minute later another machine lets out a dreadful series of screeches. As your consciousness fades, a thousand worries rush through your head at once. What’s happening? Where’s my doctor? Am I stuck with the midnight B-team? Is she even awake? What if she’s too tired to do her best?Suddenly a team of techs and nurses rush in and somehow know just what to do. In a matter of minutes, they’ve assessed the situation, administered meds, rechecked your vitals, and shared with your dazed wife that you’re stable and that everything will be ok. Relieved, you ask a simple question: “may I talk to the doctor?” “Of course,” a friendly nurse replies. He’s only gone for a minute, and when he returns, all he has with him is a video monitor on a rolling cart. As soon as he turns it to face you, you see her. She’s sitting at her desk with sunlight pouring in the windows. “I’m doctor Aiken. You gave us quite a scare a few minutes ago, but we caught it in time…” She’s bright-eyed and answers all of your questions—even the last: Where are you? You’re stunned to learn she’s half a world away in the land down under.
How Do They Do It?
While this story has been fabricated, it’s not science fiction. Atlanta’s Emory Healthcare has partnered with both Macquarie University’s MQ Health in Sydney, Australia and device manufacturer Philips to pioneer an intercontinental intensive care unit. It serves American patients overnight by connecting them with doctors wide-awake in Sydney. Philips’ technology empowers the relationship between both hospital systems, giving intensive care physicians the freedom to maintain a traditional daytime schedule while remotely covering ICU patients 24/7. Advanced analytics and algorithms built into the platform allowing these physicians to make smarter and more informed treatment decisions, even from thousands of miles away. Kevin Barrow, Philips’ Managing Director for Australia/New Zealand, noted that “We are operating in a time when connected health solutions can truly make a difference in a patient’s experience…We aim to transform the delivery of care to address growing clinician shortages while improving patient outcomes. I am confident that the application of these kinds of solutions will shape the future of healthcare.”
So far, partnerships like this one are making serious waves in the medical world by delivering breakthrough results both clinically and financially. In a 5-year study that included more than 100,000 patients in dozens of hospitals, the introduction of eICUs yielded a 26% drop in patient mortality rates versus traditional ones. The former also cut malpractice claims by 90% versus the latter.
Why This Matters –
As telehealth expands across more disciplines and markets, the relationships between healthcare professionals and the companies who support them must evolve as well to better all patients. In the future, geography may have much less influence on a physician’s potential utilization of a product, and the Atlanta/Sydney connection is just the start. This technology can also allow the best physicians to serve patients in rural or impoverished settings without packing up their practice and moving. This means that the best physicians can impact more patients than ever before, and even focus on those in the greatest need. These physicians of the future will demand patient-focused solutions that can translate across care settings, teams, and time-zones.