Sometimes, even the best medical professionals need a little help from their friends.
That’s why the Mayo Clinic and the Mayo Clinic Health System have teamed up to help technology give patients what it thinks is the best possible care. It’s called enhanced critical care.
Imagine this: A patient in one of the MCHS hospitals in Fairmont or Springfield who is in intensive care needs the medical advice or opinion of a doctor or nurse at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
Preparing that patient for a trip eastward might have been the old way of doing it. Now, however, that patient can stay in his or her room while nurses call the Mayo Clinic. On a video monitor perched in the room’s upper corner — which is right next to a high-definition video camera — the face of a doctor or nurse appears, ready to view and assess the patient via that camera and give advice on what should happen next in the patient’s care.
All of the intensive care units in Mankato’s hospital are outfitted with in-room computers and high-quality video and audio to make sure all communication is clear. The attached computers also transmit medical data such as vital signs, tests and diagnostic imaging results directly to doctors and nurses in Rochester, which allows them to review patient information constantly to monitor trends or identify issues that may need follow up by doctors.
In the end, local hospital officials say, it’s about having better patient outcomes, fewer transfers to other facilities and reduced costs.
“Patients get out quicker, and it doesn’t cost anything extra to them,” Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato spokesman Micah Dorfner said.
Angie Stransky, patient care manager at MCHS in Mankato, said patients in the hospital’s intensive care unit are monitored by doctors known as intensivists. Mankato’s ICU is monitored by intensivists at all times, but smaller hospitals in the Mayo Clinic Health System, such as Fairmont or Springfield, are not. In those cases, having access to an intensivist via hook up with the Mayo Clinic can be the next best thing to being sent to Rochester.
So, does it work? Stransky said it’s already been effective in the case of a Fairmont man who after surgery was experiencing low blood pressure. After a remote monitoring visit with a medical professional, doctors in Fairmont were able to come up with a care plan that resolved the man’s issue.
Remote monitoring systems are in place at about 10 percent of all intensive care unit beds in the U.S. A University of Massachusetts study published in 2011 in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed a 20 percent reduction in intensive care deaths and a 32 percent reduction in intensive care stays when critical care units used such a system.
Enhanced critical care also is available at Mayo Clinic Health System sites in Austin, Albert Lea, Fairmont, Eau Claire and La Crosse.