Health Team

Camera never blinks in the electronic ICU

Posted September 5, 2012
Updated September 10, 2012

Monitors also doctors and nurses to keep a remote eye on patients in the electronic intensive care unity

— Far removed from WakeMed's hospitals in Raleigh and Cary is a room called The Core, where registered nurses and physicians use sophisticated software to remotely monitor their patients.

Although the are miles away, it's as if they are at the bedside of up to 88 intensive care patients.

"I like to think of this as air traffic control for nursing, kind of," said Chris Smith, a registered nurse with WakeMed. "So, we're watching all the patients to make sure that everybody stays safe and that all the best practices are implemented."

The monitors inside The Core don't replace nurses or doctors in the hospital. Their job is to keep a closer eye on subtle changes over time in things like oxygen levels, blood pressure, blood work or urinalysis results.

WakeMed is only the second hospital in the state to implement this system, but more are popping up around the country.

"You're seeing the changes in real time," said Dr. Bill Lane, medical director of the WakeMed EICU. "As quick as the lab is entered, it's posted. If it's outside certain levels, it gives you an alert."

Camera never blinks in the electronic ICU Camera never blinks in the electronic ICU

A software program called E-Care Manager posts "red" for a serious alert and "yellow" for caution. That's when these monitors contact nurses or doctors in the hospital.

"And hopefully correcting things earlier - recognizing patients who are becoming worse quicker," Lane said.

A remote-controlled camera can read a nurse's name tag or small print on the far wall.

"So the patients can see us in their room and hear us, and we can see them and hear them as well," Smith said.

There's no extra cost to patients. The idea is that it will save the hospital and patients money in the long run.

"Most importantly, which is hard to judge by money, I think it saves lives," Lane said.


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  • jwkrock Sep 19, 2012

    You all really need to educate yourselves on this product. It's added jobs, not taken them away. It's also not a spy unit. I makes sure your loved ones in the ICU have eyes on them even when the "on the floor" nurses are not in the room.

  • Killian Sep 6, 2012

    I think this has its benefits, but I would seriously question the lack of privacy that it entails. Most people, even when ill, do not want strangers watching their medical procedures or seeing their exposed bodies.

  • 68_dodge_polara Sep 6, 2012

    Just heard on the radio today that registered nursing is the second most unsatisfactory career. This is undoubtedly do to being assigned to many people to care for to do a decent job. So when industry officials say "Most importantly, which is hard to judge by money, I think it saves lives,". I don't believe it for a second, seriously who would? This will be used to further reduce staff and result in RA's running around in emergency mode and even less care because let no one be fooled it's only about money.

  • BernsteinIII Sep 6, 2012

    What happens when the electricity goes out?

    And if you believe the hospitals aren't making staffing decisions based on this service you need your head examined.

  • Scubagirl Sep 5, 2012

    While I can definitely see the benefits of this the flip side is I fear hospitals will use this to further reduce staffing, which (IMO) is already down to bare-bones dangerous levels; and has been for years!