Remote ‘Eye in the Sky’ Keeping Tabs on VA Hospital Patients

Staff Writer | The Gazette | March 13, 2012

...Through the Veterans Affairs new Tele-ICU program, which has included the Iowa City VA since December, doctors like Janjua are able to monitor as many as 75 ICU patients at one time around the clock.

“I think it’s incredibly important to be able to use the data we get about a patient’s breathing or heart rate or lab tests in real time, so we’re not just responding to it in the morning when we are doing our rounds,” said Karl Thomas, chief of primary and specialty care in Iowa City’s VA Health Care System. “The essence of critical care medicine is being able to respond on a minute-to-minute or hour-to-hour basis.”

The VA’s Tele-ICU program is based in Minneapolis, where one doctor and two nurses at any one time are stationed in front of a bank of monitors tracking ICU patients in seven VA hospitals across the Midwest, including Iowa City. The team assigned to the Tele-ICU unit tracks patient progress, analyzes test results and identifies potential problems.