Two Local Hospitals Involved in State Collaborative to Improve Patient Care
CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Innovative eICU® Program Unites Hospitals
to Reduce Critical Care Physician Shortage, Improve Care with VISICU Technology
Today, six hospitals serving patients in rural Maryland, including the
Eastern Shore’s Atlantic General Hospital and Peninsula Regional
Medical Center, announced plans to improve the quality of patient care
by implementing the VISICU eICU® Program in each of their intensive
care units. Made possible by a $3 million grant from CareFirst BlueCross
BlueShield (CareFirst), the eICU Program marries medicine and technology
to bring critical care physicians, also known as intensivists, to areas
facing a shortage in this specialty.
Studies have shown improved patient outcomes and decreased lengths of
stay for patients in intensive care units (ICU) managed by critical care
physicians. Yet many hospitals – especially those in rural America
– do not have the resources to keep these kinds of physicians on
site 24 hours a day.
The six hospitals, known collectively as Maryland eCare, united two years
ago to find a solution to the critical care physician shortage. It is
the largest collaboration of independent hospitals in the country –
and the only such partnership in the state of Maryland – to establish
this model of care for its patients.
“Bringing this technology to rural Maryland means patients and families
will have better care close to home,” said Dr. Marc T. Zubrow, Medical
Director of Maryland eCare and Director of Critical Care Medicine at Christiana
Care Health System (Wilmington, Del.) which houses its own eICU Program.
“This program enables us to act quickly and prevent complications.
It leads to improved patient outcomes, getting patients home with their
families more quickly and more safely.”
In the ICU, patient conditions can change very quickly. Complementing
local ICU care, eICU critical care physicians and nurses – based
at Christiana Care’s eICU monitoring center – closely watch
patient conditions 24/7 remotely, through video and audio technology combined
with intelligent monitoring and alarm systems. While maintaining patient
privacy, the eICU’s remote center closely monitors patients for
any physical change, immediately alerting local caregivers and recommending
“In addition to patient care, safety and satisfaction, the eICU
Program provides ICU nurses with immediate access to a critical care physician
during off hours”, said Zubrow. “This reduces stress and improves
nurse retention in this very intense environment. Also, it improves physician
satisfaction and lifestyle as it allows for fewer sleep interruptions.
Sleep deprived physicians tend to be more fatigued, less productive, and
prone to errors."
Made possible by a $3 million grant from CareFirst, the Maryland eCare
initiative uniquely brings together resources from insurers and rural
hospitals. Independently, participating hospitals would not be able to
bring this technology to their communities.
Chet Burrell, CareFirst President and CEO said, “CareFirst aims
to serve as a catalyst for improving health care throughout our entire
market region. Our involvement with the eICU initiative will foster better
care at the most critical moments of recovery for CareFirst members who
live in Maryland’s more rural areas.”
Participating hospitals include Atlantic General Hospital, Berlin; Calvert
Memorial Hospital, Prince Frederick; Civista Medical Center, LaPlata;
Peninsula Regional Medical Center, Salisbury; St. Mary’s Hospital,
Leonardtown; and Washington County Health System, Hagerstown, which collectively
admit more than 66,000 patients every year.
Peninsula Regional Medical Center is scheduled to role out the eICU program
in their intensive care unit in 2009. Atlantic General Hospital’s
participation will begin in 2010.
Maryland eCare’s remote monitoring center will be based at Christiana
Care Health System in Wilmington, Delaware. Christiana Care has expertise
in utilizing this technology in its two hospitals with a total of four
ICUs. In November 2005, Christiana Care was the first health system in
the country to adapt the eICU Program to monitor critically ill patients
in its emergency departments and post anesthesia care units. Dr. Zubrow
will oversee Maryland eCare’s remote monitoring center with a team
of Christiana Care critical care nurses and physicians.
The eICU Program was developed by VISICU (a Philips Company; Baltimore,
Md.) by two former Johns Hopkins critical care physicians and is being
utilized in more than 200 hospitals across the country, primarily within
large hospital systems.
eICU® is a registered trademark of VISICU, Inc.
About Maryland eCare
Maryland eCare, LLC is a group of independent hospitals committed to improving
patient care and safety for the communities they serve by sharing resources
and bringing skilled critical care to rural Maryland.
In its 71st year of service, CareFirst, an independent licensee of the
Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health care
company which, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive
portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to
more than 3.2 million individuals and groups in Maryland, Northern Virginia
and the District of Columbia.