The telemedicine revolution in South Carolina is expanding to hospital intensive care units.
The Medical University of South Carolina on Wednesday announced a partnership with Advanced ICU Care to connect the Charleston facility's intensive care physicians with rural hospitals.
A $12 million state telemedicine grant approved this year will help fund the tele-ICU services, slated to begin late this year. MUSC will work with rural hospitals to equip them for the effort using the grant funds.
Telemedicine programs link facilities using interactive audio, video and data systems, allowing a physician in Charleston, for instance, to consult on a case in a rural area. Successful telemedicine programs already have been established in South Carolina for psychiatry, pediatrics and neurology.
"With a tele-ICU, patients have immediate contact with intensivists -- board-certified, critical care physicians who have received specialized training in the care of ICU patients," said Dr. Pat Cawley, MUSC vice president for clinical operations. "For a patient in critical condition this access can be the difference between life and death. This partnership will allow us to deliver better care in our local communities in the most cost-effective way."
Ideally, the increased access to MUSC's expertise will allow rural patients to stay close to home and keep their health care local.
Advanced ICU Care, based in St. Louis, Mo., has been providing tele-ICU services since 2006. It has worked with hospital systems in Missouri, Kentucky and Wisconsin. ___