The eICU: it's not just telemedicine

Crit Care Med. 2001 Aug;29(8 Suppl):N183-9. doi: 10.1097/00003246-200108001-00007.


Intensive care units (ICUs) are major sites for medical errors and adverse events. Suboptimal outcomes reflect a widespread failure to implement care delivery systems that successfully address the complexity of modern ICUs. Whereas other industries have used information technologies to fundamentally improve operating efficiency and enhance safety, medicine has been slow to implement such strategies. Most ICUs do not even track performance; fewer still have the capability to examine clinical data and use this information to guide quality improvement initiatives. This article describes a technology-enabled care model (electronic ICU, or eICU) that represents a new paradigm for delivery of critical care services. A major component of the model is the use of telemedicine to leverage clinical expertise and facilitate a round-the-clock proactive care by intensivist-led teams of ICU caregivers. Novel data presentation formats, computerized decision support, and smart alarms are used to enhance efficiency, increase effectiveness, and standardize clinical and operating processes. In addition, the technology infrastructure facilitates performance improvement by providing an automated means to measure outcomes, track performance, and monitor resource utilization. The program is designed to support the multidisciplinary intensivist-led team model and incorporates comprehensive ICU re-engineering efforts to change practice behavior. Although this model can transform ICUs into centers of excellence, success will hinge on hospitals accepting the underlying value proposition and physicians being willing to change established practices.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Hospitalists
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / organization & administration*
  • Medical Informatics / methods
  • Models, Organizational
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Telemedicine*