ICU in Coronavirus Pandemic: How TeleICU can Help to Fight Coronavirus

ICU in Coronavirus Pandemic

As the world continues to battle against the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for ICU (Intensive Care Unit) has quickly outpaced its availability in hospitals around the world. Healthcare professionals and industry exports are calling on clinicians and healthcare systems to embrace TeleICU as a new set of tools to assist the shortage of ICU in coronavirus pandemic. In February 2020, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization called for hospitals and clinics to expand their use of telehealth equipment — also known as remote or virtual healthcare — to help triage the patients and ease the pressure on the already-crowded intensive care facilities. It seems that the TeleICU will become a new trend in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

What is ICU?

ICU, known as Intensive Care Unit, is a unit of medical facilities used to treat and monitor life threatening injuries or illnesses. ICU is usually a department in hospitals or trauma centres with specially trained health professionals serving the needs of critical patients. ICU in coronavirus pandemic is well known for providing 24-hour treatment and monitoring to patients with life-threatening healthy issues. Medical equipment used in the ICU is consists of life support and emergency resuscitation devices, equipment for patient monitoring, pain management devices and equipment for respiratory and cardiac support.

Major medical equipment used in ICU:

  • Ventilator – a machine that helps with breathing; a tube is placed in the mouth, nose or through a small cut in the throat (tracheostomy)
  • Monitoring equipment – used to measure important bodily functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure and the level of oxygen in the blood
  • IV lines and pumps – tubes inserted into a vein (intravenously) to provide fluids, nutrition and medication
  • Feeding tubes – tubes placed in the nose, through a small cut made in the tummy or into a vein if a person is unable to eat normally
  • Drains and catheters – drains are tubes used to remove any build-up of blood or fluid from the body; catheters are thin tubes inserted into the bladder to drain pee

Suggested Reading: How Companies are Finding Creative Solutions to the Medical Ventilators Shortage

ICU In Coronavirus Pandemic

In China, where the coronavirus outbreak started, ICU has served an essential role in treating the patients who got infected. Government has deployed a large amount of ICU equipment and intensive care in treating the virus, while other more senior experts make regular inspections of all hospitals and fever clinics with critically ill Covid-19 patients, providing essential care for many critical cases. According to the report from China Critical Care Clinical Trials Group (CCCCTG), as part of the national response to inadequate local intensive care resources, 31 deployed support medical teams including 598 intensivists and 2319 ICU nurses from other cities have been dispatched to ICUs of the designated hospitals in Wuhan, the centre of coronavirus outbreak since early January 2020.

However, the volume of critically ill patients Covid-19 infection has soon surpassed the intensive care supply for quite a long period of time, meaning that only a small proportion of critically ill patients could get access to ICU services. Under these circumstances, patient triage and provision of essential rather than limitless intensive care has become vital in the fight of coronavirus pandemic.

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Since it’s a new virus that hasn’t had any effective clinical treatments, coronavirus has brought a new challenge for healthcare workers around the world. Most of the patients with coronavirus infection suffer from severe hypoxemia and require some form of ventilatory support such as high-flow nasal cannula, and non-invasive and invasive mechanical ventilation. With no antiviral agents have been proven to be effective in treating the coronavirus, all sorts of supportive treatments and intensive care for critically ill coronavirus patients have become extremely important, this has also caused a significant surge in demands for intensive care units (ICU) around the world.

What is TeleICU?

Tele-ICU is form of telehealthcare expansion on the traditional ICU. TeleICU enables off-site clinicians to interact with bedside staff to consult on patient care. One centralized care team can manage a large number of geographically dispersed ICU locations to exchange health information electronically in real time. Therefore, TeleICU can be an additional support to the bedside team and provide essential support to the increasingly scarce ICU resources.

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How can TeleICU Help to Fight Coronavirus Pandemic?

Currently, ICU are a critical component of healthcare in fighting against coronavirus pandemic. In the US, ICU treats roughly 6 million critically ill patients each year. Demand for ICU has been seen soaring during the global pandemic of coronavirus, leading to ICU capacity constraints around the world. To meet this soaring demand, an easy response is to simply add additional ICU beds. However, this approach is unsustainable, not only due to the high cost of adding fully-equipped ICU beds (One fully equipped ICU bed costs averagely $2 million), but also because this surge in ICU patients is coinciding with a significant shortage of critical care physicians and nurses.

Implementing TeleICU potentially means that more coronavirus patients can be treated at lower costs. A study in the journal CHEST has reported that, TeleICU can treat 21% more patients then traditional ICU in the same period of time. When compared to traditional ICU, TeleICU can have 20% reduction in mortality rates; 30% reduction in patient’s length-of-stay; and 37% reduction in patients requiring transfer.

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Therefore, TeleICU is believed to be able to help healthcare services around the world to address the vast need of ICU facilities resulting from the rapid spread of coronavirus and sustain the transmission, while improving patient triage and early intervention, thus saving lives and reducing the pressure of this pandemic on the healthcare systems.

Global ICU Market Analysis: TeleICU is a New Trend

According to the latest market analysis published by Technavio, the global intensive care unit market size will grow by US$4.58 billion from 2020 to 2024, representing a strong CAGR of 6% during the forecast period. The outbreak of COVID-19 has driven several countries to construct several new hospitals, clinics, and healthcare centers within a very short period, which has boosted the demand for ICU equipment and solutions to provide medical assistance to critical patients.

The growing need for ICU ventilators and TeleICU equipment will be some of the major factors driving the growth of the intensive care unit market in the near future. In an intensive care setting, patients with acute exacerbation are provided with ventilatory support, bronchodilators, oral corticosteroids, and oxygen therapy. Intensive care ventilators are also used to provide respiratory assistance to patients undergoing surgical process under general anesthesia. Hence, with an increasing number of critical diseases and surgical procedures, the need for ICU will consequently grow with a rapid pace.

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Frequently Asked Questions in the Global ICU Market:

What is the current global ICU market size?

What is the impact of coronavirus pandemic on the global ICU market?

What are the major challenges in the global ICU market?

Who are the top ICU equipment companies in the world?

What are the ICU market trends?

What are the factors influencing the market shares of the Americas, APAC, EMEA?

All the detailed answers can be found in the following market report: