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June 1, 2011

The Use and Misuse of ICU Telemedicine

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Clinical Research, Investigation and Systems Modeling of Acute Illness Center, Department of Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and Department of Health Policy and Management, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

JAMA. 2011;305(21):2227-2228. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.716

More than 25 years have passed since the original description of intensive care unit (ICU) telemedicine, a technological strategy to improve critical care outcomes by expanding the reach and availability of intensivist clinicians.1 Since then, the understanding of evidence-based practice and the role of information technology in the ICU have substantially increased. Multiple commercial applications of ICU telemedicine now exist, and telemedicine is widely touted as an all-encompassing strategy to improve ICU outcomes.2 Yet even after 25 years, the optimal role of telemedicine in the ICU remains uncertain.3 A large, multicenter study published recently showed no demonstrable clinical benefit,4 and a recent meta-analysis found no beneficial association between ICU telemedicine and in-hospital mortality.5 These results have left clinicians, hospital administrators, and policy makers wondering how to best use this technology, if at all.

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