With the ongoing advancements in technology throughout the healthcare industry, providers are continuing to find ways to strengthen their practice by improving patient accessibility and convenience.

Telehealth has changed the future of nursing care, and there are various job opportunities within this realm that nurses can get involved in!

Over the past several years, eICU nursing has gradually become implemented into ICUs to further promote patient care as it allows nurses to have an extra set of eyes during patient observations.

Although the idea of an ‘extra set of eyes’ alone is useful in the healthcare setting, what exactly are the benefits of eICU nursing? Is it truly helpful, or just an added cost to the healthcare system?

What is an eICU? How Do Nurses Promote Patient Care in This Setting?

An eICU is a virtual-based monitoring and facilitating system for healthcare providers, particularly nurses and intensivists.

Of course, healthcare must still possess hands-on, in-person care, so the eICU team serves as a collaborative, supportive addition to the bedside providers. This combination of both virtual, and in-person healthcare interventions have shown significant improvements in patient outcomes.

Lisa-Mae Williams, the Baptist Health of South Florida’s Director of telehealth and eICU states, “It’s like an air traffic control center, where patients are blips on the radar, and we’re the controllers making sure everything goes smoothly.”

Patients under the oversight of an eICU can have their vital signs, medication drips, ventilator settings and rounding data monitored 24/7; this allows for the bedside nurses to be quickly notified should any extreme changes occur that require immediate intervention.

The Benefits of eICU Nursing

Although the idea of remote healthcare practice from a central monitoring station may make one feel uneasy, eICU nurses and other healthcare team members can ensure each patient’s care plan is tailored to meet their specific needs.

EICU nurses document and run codes, walk the patient’s in-person care team through various bedside procedures while simultaneously speaking to the patients and family members should they require guidance in making difficult decisions all from a remote location outside of the care facility; how crazy is that?

As an extra set of eyes, they help minimize errors and improve patient outcomes while also providing efficiency and support to other healthcare team members.

But some may question if this remote support is truly beneficial or just an added cost to the institution?

Does It Create More Harm than Good?

Some may question the benefits of this advanced system, and wonder:

What are the added costs to this?

Does it outweigh the costs of medical error prevention?

Does It allow hospitals to put less staff with less experience at the bedside?

Does it lower the morale of the bedside nurses who have been caring for these patients without assistance for years?

Does it create conflict within the interdisciplinary team?

Potential problems that may occur within an eICU system may include technical failures, communication errors, understaffing, over-reliance of remote nurses and physicians, and lack of adequate bedside assessments that provide crucial information that no one virtually would pick up on.

Bedside team members are overwhelmed with low staffing, alerts, and decisions that pull them away from tasks that can only be done at the beside.

Can we, as providers, find a happy medium within the pros and cons of remote healthcare practice to improve patient outcomes and provide the best possible care to our patients?

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Morgan serves as the Course Curriculum Executive Editor and Content Manager at NursingCECentral.com. Her extensive background in a Level I Trauma Hospital setting provides vast clinical insight into high octane clinical care, along with a deep understanding of specialized areas of nursing such as heart and lung transplants, ECMO, and cardiac surgery recovery. Morgan’s professional versatility also extends into the highly sought-after field of aesthetic nursing, with comprehensive experience in the Plastic Surgery field; including nurse leadership in PACU, PERI-OP, and OR departments.

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