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Virtual visit to ICU makes geography now a history

Chennai: An intensive care unit (ICU) is the most critical area of a hospital, where admission is restricted to prevent any possibility of transmission of infections or entry of harmful microbes. Moreover, too much movement in the area can affect the holistic care and personalized treatment of the patient.

1But given the fact that the relatives and friends are always anxious to know the recovery status and continuous health update of the patient, doctors always have a tough time preventing them from entering the ICU for the sake of both the patient and their own health.

The dual challenge of providing real time information of the condition of the patient to his or her relatives and friends and preventing the infection rate in the ICU from going up, has been met through an innovative ‘I-SEE-U’ technology developed by Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation (ATNF), Chennai.

The technology has introduced virtual visits to the ICU from anywhere in the world via internet using personal computer (PC), laptop or even a smart phone. The patient’s authorized relatives and friends can now virtually ‘SEE’ an ICU patient, by remotely switching on a camera installed over the ICU bed.

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Elaborating on the use of the ‘I-SEE-U’ technology, Dr K Ganapathy, president, ATNF, told India Medical Times, “To ensure maximum clinical care and to reduce chances of infection, physical visits to ICUs by relatives and friends are kept to the absolute minimum. The family would like a status report directly from the primary consultant in the presence of the patient. In an ICU setting sometimes, this is not possible.”

“The ‘I-SEE-U’ facility has been designed with this in mind to enable virtual visits to individual ICU cubicles, both by consultants and the relatives and friends. We can zoom, tilt or pan in on the patient’s observation notes so we can read them clearly and the families could feel like standing at the patient’s bedside. It also allows us to conduct a consultation at any time of day or night. Only individuals authorized by the next of kin would have access to this value added service using a ‘one time password’,” he said.

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Through an ideal blend of medicine with technology, this care model leverages clinical expertise to improve critical care delivery.

“We started this project like 12-15 months back. Initially, we faced some glitches like software issue, camera’s movement besides some other technical problems. But gradually we strived to make it better than the best. We launched the technology on pilot basis two weeks. We have to calculate and analyse its performance and shortcomings before installing it in all our hospitals. The baby has just born; we have just started. So, it would be too early to say what lies in future,” said Dr Ganapathy.

On the question whether the technology would involve increasing the number of monitoring staff, Dr Ganapathy said, “I would be overwhelmed if it can provide competitive employment platform for those who are deserving.”

The new edge cutting ICU technologies are designed with an aim to avert adverse effects of environment related stress and to promote healing process for patients and families in a holistic manner. The emotive aspect of people associated with the patient should not be overlooked even in critical times is the whole objective behind developing the ‘I-SEE-U’ technology. May be this is what would make such technologies unique and popular in near future.

by Vidhi Rathee

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