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ICU Telemedicine Reduces Interhospital ICU Transfers in the Veterans Health Administration Q&A With Author Spyridon Fortis, MD

By: Vanessa Claude

ICU telemedicine, Figure 2Figure 2

*Thirty-day unadjusted mortality in transferred and nontransferred patients in the ICU TM and non-TM ICUs. The comparison between pre-TM and post-TM periods was performed using χ2 analysis. TM = telemedicine.

What effects do you hope the findings of this study will have on the use of telemedicine in hospitals and interhospital transfers?

Our hope is that more hospitals will start thinking about using telemedicine.  For example, small, rural, low-resource hospitals often send out (transfer) patients who require mechanical ventilation but are otherwise not very sick. Telemedicine may help these hospitals keep their patients locally. Tele-intensivists can manage those patients remotely with the help of bedside respiratory therapists. 

What are some factors that could enhance this study further?

By far, the most important factor in enhancing the effects of telemedicine on transfers is a strong collaboration between the bedside ICUs and the telemedicine staff. Health-care providers and administrators should develop strategies to foster that collaboration.

Are there any ways you'd like to expand on in these findings in the future? And what results would you like to find?

Telemedicine intervention is not easily measurable. We are planning to examine whether telemedicine usage (how often there is interaction between bedside ICU and telemedicine) affects outcomes.

Read the full article from July’s journal CHEST®, ICU Telemedicine Reduces Interhospital ICU Transfers in the Veterans Health Administration.


*Fortis S, Sarazzin MV, Beck BF, et al. ICU telemedicine reduces interhospital ICU transfers in the Veterans Health Administration. CHEST. 2018;154(1):69-76.

Spyridon FortisDr. Fortis is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Pulmonary, Critical Care and Occupational Medicine Division at University of Iowa. His research interests include ICU outcomes—specifically tele-ICU, COPD, and pulmonary function tests.