Now more than ever, tech is playing an important role in healthcare. From robots helping frontline workers triage patients to remote monitoring solutions that keep them out of harm’s way whenever possible, tech is saving lives every day throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Today, Intel and Medical Informatics Corp (MIC) announced a partnership that will help hospitals rapidly scale up their remote monitoring capabilities and bed capacities in their intensive care units (ICUs.) This is an important step to reduce healthcare providers’ risk of being exposed to COVID-19 while caring for patients.
Dubbed “Sickbay,” Intel and MIC are pushing to help hospitals to adopt the new platform. Intel is waiving the implementation fee for the first 100 hospitals that qualify. Meanwhile, MIC is waiving the cost of the first 90 days of software subscription.
Scale and Serve
Ensuring that healthcare workers themselves remain healthy is a major concern right now. With millions of confirmed COVID-19 cases around the world, hospitals everywhere are struggling to keep up with a surge of patients. Losing doctors, nurses, and support staff to the virus—even temporarily—isn’t an option.
As such, healthcare organizations are coming up with creative ways to keep their frontline workers safe.
Partnering with tech companies is one way to do that. Intel’s freshly announced Scale to Serve Program and Sickbay platform are helping hospitals navigate the pitfalls of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lisa Spelman, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel’s Xeon and Memory group, says, “Intel technology has a role to help accelerate the core capabilities our medical community requires to combat COVID-19. This is why we’re committed to applying our technology to helping protect our frontline healthcare providers who are providing care for ICU patients by accelerating the access to virtual patient monitoring solutions.”
She adds, “The solution improves the efficiency of ICU patient care from anywhere while protecting the health of caregivers on the front line of this crisis.”
What is Sickbay?
Patients diagnosed with COVID-19 have a wide variety of possible health outcomes. Those with severe cases will most likely end up in the ICU. This gives healthcare workers the ability to closely monitor them and provide respiratory support as needed.
However, a big topic during the pandemic has been the availability of ICU beds. With Sickbay, hospitals are able to rapidly scale up their capacity to provide care for ICU patients thanks to remote monitoring. The platform converts any acute care bed into a monitored ICU bed in just minutes.
It accomplishes this by unlocking and integrating data from different medical devices that operate at the bedside. Typically, this hardware doesn’t work well with other systems from different manufacturers. Sickbay is a bridge of sorts that allows healthcare providers to access real-time data from various monitoring systems without being in the room.
Everything from ventilators to cardiac monitors and more can be hooked up to the system and monitored remotely in a virtual dashboard. Better yet, it doesn’t matter which company manufactured the device for Sickbay to work.
Currently, Sickbay is the only scalable FDA-cleared surveillance and analytics platform designed for ICUs. It utilizes Intel’s Xeon processors to let providers access, analyze, and visualize data using connected PCs, tablets, and phones.
MIC CEO Emma Fauss says, “In healthcare today, less than one percent of the data being generated by patients makes it into the electronic health record, forcing clinicians to work without a complete picture. We unlock that data to allow for predictive analytics, remote patient monitoring, AI and machine learning applications that will ultimately help providers create a new standard of care tomorrow.”
Reflecting on the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare she says, “What COVID has done is crystallize the immediate need around reducing interactions in the room and looking at resource limitations in a new way. How can you monitor more patients with less, without sacrificing the quality of care? It requires being able to monitor patients remotely, monitor multiple patients at once, and leverage data for patient trajectory, analytics and risk scoring.”
In the Works
Sickbay isn’t just a theoretical technology. Hospitals are actively using it to help scale up their ICU capacity in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Houston Methodist Hospital deployed the platform in March as part of a telehealth initiative. One day later, it started seeing COVID-19 patients.
Thanks to Sickbay’s innovative design, Houston Methodist is able to monitor up to 180 ICU COVID-19 patients from an on-site (yet remote) command center, conference rooms, and offices.
Dr. Dan Berkowitz of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital says, “Every time a physician goes into an ICU room, there’s a risk of exposure and a need to utilize PPE. We can reduce exposure risk by enabling the physicians to access the physiologic patient data remotely and save precious PPE.”
With the Sickbay platform, frontline healthcare workers are able to get in-depth, real-time patient data without setting foot in a contaminated room unless they have to intervene. The software allows teams to create a flexible dashboard or “virtual ICU” (vICU) that shows data on up to 100 patients.
Staff can then monitor this from a nurses’ station, a conference room, or even their own home. That’s ideal for frontline workers who may be quarantined or who have certain health risks that make them more vulnerable. Remote surveillance can help these individuals return to making an impact while keeping them (and patients) safe.
Meanwhile, those working in the healthcare setting will need to enter COVID-19 patient rooms less frequently, thus decreasing their risk of exposure.
“We plan to use Sickbay in a centralized monitoring area where a single physician or nurse can monitor patients remotely and leverage hierarchical categorization of patients. We also plan to give our physicians who may be at higher risk of infection the opportunity to provide highly important consultation, without having to be in the line of fire, by logging in from a remote site on a web-based, secure, HIPPA compliant system,” Berkowitz says.
Thanks to the help of Intel and MIC, frontline healthcare workers will be able to continue providing top-notch care as the world battles this pandemic.