News Feature | August 7, 2014

Where Are The VAR Opportunities In eICUs?

By Megan Williams, contributing writer

VAR Opportunities In eICUs

You’re probably already aware telemedicine and telehealth provide many opportunities for VARs. However, innovations around care coordination – specifically in the ICU – open up even more doors in the area.

Why Your Clients Should Care

According to the National Center For Biotechnology Information, ICUs account for about 10 percent of inpatient beds in the U.S., with the percentage being higher in tertiary-care centers. Patients in the ICU have the highest acuity of all patient groups, with mortality exceeding 10 percent, and the daily costs coming in four times higher than other inpatients. Because of this, eICU solutions provide opportunities to cut costs in areas that are financial burdens for your client-providers.

What Is eICU?

eICU solutions essentially provide an additional layer of critical care service. It’s sometimes called “tele-ICU” and brings with it patient benefits similar to that of general telemedicine — 24 hour access to care givers, more access for remote patients, and optimized clinical expertise.

Some of the technologies used include:

  • two-way cameras
  • video monitors
  • high definition cameras
  • microphones
  • smart alarms
  • dedicated telephone lines
  • other computerized communication technology


The concept was first implemented in Norfolk, VA in 2000 at the Sentara hospital system in a 35-bed roll out. According to their CEO, David Bernd, “We understood very early that technology and internet connectivity had the potential to improve patient care. We were pleased to see the early successes of the system to decrease mortality and ICU length of stay and the resulting successes that have followed in the ten years since then.”


Recently, Health IT Outcomes reported on the use of eICU to combat physician and nurse shortages at St. Luke’s Health System in Boise, ID. In this model, a team of critical care nurses within the nine-hospital system monitor multiple ICUs and participate in ICU management from a centralized control room.

The hospital system began phase one of the implementation in January 2013. Phase two kicked off in August of that same year, when eICU functions were expanded from Boise and Meridian to St. Luke’s Magic Valley. Phase three is currently underway and involves emergency services support for critical access hospital partners in other cities. This final phase will conclude with the addition of critical care beds across the system, as well as emergency support in two additional cities.

Go Deeper

Discussions around eICU will require a familiarity with telemedicine and telehealth. We recommend you read this article on HHS and regulations around telemedicine, as well as this piece around growth opportunities in telemedicine in general.