ICU Telemedicine Implementation and Risk-Adjusted Mortality Differences Between Daytime and Nighttime Coverage

Chest. 2021 Apr;159(4):1445-1451. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2020.10.055. Epub 2020 Oct 28.


Background: ICU telemedicine augmentation has been associated with improvements in clinical and financial outcomes in many cases, but not all. Understanding this discrepancy is of interest given the clinical impact and intervention cost. A recent meta-analysis noted an association with mortality reduction and standardized mortality ratio (SMR) before ICU telemedicine implementation of > 1.

Research question: Does ICU telemedicine implementation affect adjusted mortality outcomes? If so, in what context?

Study design and methods: We performed a retrospective pre-post analysis comparing before vs after ICU telemedicine implementation on the outcome of risk-adjusted ICU mortality during am vs pm admissions as well as other objective measures of ICU telemedicine involvement.

Results: One thousand five hundred eighty-one patient-stays and 14,584 patient-stays were available for analysis in the implementation period before vs after ICU telemedicine implementation, respectively. The average Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) IVa score was 46.6 vs 54.8 (P < .01) in the am group before ICU telemedicine implementation vs the am group after ICU telemedicine implementation, respectively. The average APACHE IVa score was 47.2 vs 56.3 (P < .01) in the pm group before ICU telemedicine implementation vs the pm group after ICU telemedicine implementation, respectively. Overall, the risk-adjusted ICU mortality was 8.7% before ICU telemedicine implementation vs 6.5% (P < .01) after implementation. When stratified by am and pm admission groups, no significant difference in risk-adjusted ICU mortality was seen in the am stratum. In the pm stratum, risk-adjusted mortality was 10.8% before ICU telemedicine implementation vs 7.0% (P < .01) after ICU telemedicine implementation. The preimplementation SMR in the am admission stratum was 0.95 vs 1.30 in the pm stratum.

Interpretation: We found a reduction in risk-adjusted ICU mortality with implementation of ICU telemedicine driven predominantly within the pm admission group. The pm admission SMR was 1.30, which may suggest an association with SMR of > 1 before ICU telemedicine implementation and mortality reduction. Future studies should seek to confirm this finding and should explore other important ICU telemedicine outcomes in the context of observed-to-expected ratios.

Keywords: ICU mortality; ICU telemedicine; critical care; telemedicine.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Continuity of Patient Care / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / organization & administration*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Organizational
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Adjustment
  • Telemedicine*