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How do tele-ICU workflows differ from traditional ICU workflows?

Tele-ICU workflows differ significantly from traditional ICU workflows due to the remote nature of telemedicine. While the primary goal of both is to provide critical care to patients, the methods of delivering care and the roles of healthcare providers may vary.

Here are some key differences between tele-ICU and traditional ICU workflows:

  1. Location of care provider:
    • Traditional ICU: In a traditional ICU, all healthcare providers are physically present at the patient’s bedside within the hospital.
    • Tele-ICU: In tele-ICU, the care providers are located remotely, often in a centralized telemedicine command center , and they monitor multiple ICU patients from a distance.
  2. Patient monitoring:
    • Traditional ICU: Bedside monitoring is the primary method of patient monitoring in a traditional ICU, where healthcare providers directly observe and assess patients.
    • Tele-ICU: In tele-ICU, patient monitoring relies heavily on remote monitoring technology, such as cameras, sensors, and electronic health record systems. Data from these sources are transmitted to the tele-ICU team for evaluation and analysis.
  3. Rounds and consultation:
    • Traditional ICU: In-person rounds are common in traditional ICUs, where the care team discusses patient status and treatment plans at the bedside.
    • Tele-ICU: Tele-ICU teams conduct virtual rounds, reviewing patient data, and discussing cases remotely with on-site caregivers. This enables real-time decision-making and expert consultation.
  4. Staffing model:
    • Traditional ICU: Staffing in a traditional ICU often follows a physical presence model, where providers work directly with patients on-site.
    • Tele-ICU: Tele-ICU staffing models may involve a mix of on-site and remote care providers. Tele-ICU teams may cover multiple facilities, providing expertise across a broader patient population.
  5. Emergency Response:
    • Traditional ICU: In emergencies, the response is immediate and on-site in a traditional ICU setting.
    • Tele-ICU: Tele-ICU teams must coordinate with on-site caregivers to respond to emergencies, offering guidance and support remotely.


Despite these differences, the core principles of patient care, clinical decision-making, and patient safety remain consistent between tele-ICU and traditional ICU workflows. Tele-ICU can enhance the quality of care by providing additional expertise and continuous monitoring to support on-site teams, particularly in areas with limited access to critical care specialists.