Philips, Emory, Royal Perth use time zones, telehealth to provide nighttime care

By Laura Lovett
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Night shifts can give clinicians vampire sleep schedules — up at night, sleeping during the day. But a new telehealth partnership plans to use technology and the world's varying timezones as a way to help provide high-quality care around the clock. 

Tech company Royal Philips and US-based Emory Healthcare have teamed up to create a new remote Intensive Care Unit (eICU) monitoring program at the Royal Perth Hospital in Western Australia. As part of the partnership, US intensive care doctors and nurses based in Perth will be able to provide remote night-time critical care support to patients on the other side of the world in Atlanta, Georgia. 

There is a twelve-hour time difference between the two cities, meaning what would be the graveyard shift in Atlanta is a daytime shift in Perth. 

"This partnership is enabling a crucial shift in the delivery of care, impacting clinical outcomes, where technology supports clinicians to deliver more proactive and timely care to patients across the globe," Caroline Clarke, CEO of ASEAN Pacific, Royal Philips, said in a statement. "Access to highly experienced intensivists and critical care nurses is an ongoing challenge for hospitals internationally, and virtual care solutions, like the eICU program, can help deliver much needed expertise to areas where this is lacking. At Philips, we are proud to play our part in creating connected health solutions that break down barriers within healthcare, to impact both providers and patients.”

The program comes after a successful pilot that was run out of Sydney Australia in 2016. It lets clinicians monitor patients in near real-time and use smart algorithms to predict deteriorations in health. Doctors and nurses can communicate with the in-person caregiver through a live video link and can continuously monitor patient health and advise on the best course of treatment. 

According to Director of the Emory eICU Center Cheryl Hiddleson, Emory has decided to send one doctor and one nurse to Perth to make sure the collaborative effort is maintained. 

Philips and Emory Healthcare have a history of partnerships. In 2014 Philips' eICU program was implemented at Emory Healthcare. The program combines audiovisual technology, predictive analytics, and advances reporting capabilities to five hospitals across Georgia. 

In 2017, a report commissioned by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and conducted by Abt Associates found that the program saved Emory $4.6 million.

"The eICU represents the future of globalized critical care, transforming the delivery of care from the bedside in partnership with the Informatics Center to any site where the advanced technology can be implemented, extending beyond the barriers of location and time," Tim Buchman, director of the Critical Care Center at Emory Healthcare, said in a statement. "Overnight, when adverse events are most likely to occur for ICU patients, the eICU program allows clinicians to support the Atlanta-based bedside team by recognizing adverse physiology, making critical diagnosis, and intervening as a patient begins to veer off trajectory. We are turning night into day to make the lives of our caregivers as positive as possible while improving care quality and patient outcomes."

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