Telehealth ICU tech helps Geisinger quickly expand capacity and enhance care

Earlier this year, Geisinger health system based in Danville, Pennsylvania, had full intensive care units at several of its hospitals, leading to higher acuity in the step-down units at those facilities. The ICUs were already supported by Geisinger’s eICU program, and the health system wanted to extend that support on a temporary basis to its step-down units.

In addition, all the non-rooms that were converted to negative airflow had solid-wood doors, making it impossible to see the patients. The health system needed a simple, easy and cost-effective way to implement video monitoring for those rooms.


Geisinger already was using a telehealth ICU system from vendor Caregility and in-room AV equipment in its ICUs.

“The Caregility technology offered a HIPAA-compliant, two-way, audio/video solution,” said Tracey Kopenhaver, RN, eICU and cardiac ICU operations manager at Geisinger. “The technology was offered in a mobile app that could be downloaded to any mobile device. The proposal was to put an iPad with the app in each patient room and connect via a second device at the desk to allow visualization of the patient.”

“Having people who understand what clinicians do and how we use products and technology to take care of patients is vital to ensuring that solutions make sense and are easy to use.”

Tracey Kopenhaver, RN, Geisinger

In the case of the step-down units, Geisinger wanted to be able to connect that staff to its eICU nurses and physicians for added support.


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The health system deployed an iPad with the Caregility app to each room of the step-down units. At the touch of a button on the app, the nurse in the room with the patient could access an experienced critical care nurse or provider.

“We were able to assist the bedside clinical staff with early intervention for patients whose condition was getting worse,” Kopenhaver explained. “We also were able to assist with little things like documentation that required two nurses, so that only one bedside nurse needed to go into the room. This allowed us to save PPE such as gowns, gloves and masks, which were in short supply.”


Geisinger implemented eICU support for more than 60 rooms within a week.

“In the units supported by eICU, patients appreciate that there always is somebody in the background helping us make sure they’re not having any problems,” Kopenhaver noted. “The bedside nursing and provider staff appreciate the additional support from the eICU staff.”

The health system’s IT staff is appreciative of system-monitoring and smart-alert functionality to make the team aware of any network or device connectivity issues, she added.


“Having people who understand what clinicians do and how we use products and technology to take care of patients is vital to ensuring that solutions make sense and are easy to use,” Kopenhaver advised.

Provider organizations should look for a product that offers simple installation, a full telehealth suite, EHR integration and a reporting ability that allows staff to go in and get productivity information, she added.

“ASP-based solutions have so many more advantages than an internal desktop client, because you can reach everywhere in the health system very easily,” she concluded. “Our next focus is looking more at the non-ICU patient population and determining how we can help support those patients who are deteriorating outside of the ICU and hopefully keep them outside of the ICU.”

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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