Review Articles

Telemedicine/Virtual ICU: Where Are We and Where Are We Going?



Intensive care unit telemedicine (tele-ICU) is technology enabled care delivered from off-site locations that was developed to address the increasing complexity of patients and insufficient supply of intensivists. Although tele-ICU deployment is increasing, it continues to cover only a small proportion of ICU patients. This is primarily due to expense, with first-year costs exceeding $50,000 per bed. Meta-analyses of outcomes indicate survival benefits and quality improvements, albeit with significant heterogeneity. Depending on the context, a wide range of estimated incremental cost-effectiveness ratios reflects variable effects on cost and outcomes, such as mortality or length of stay.

Tele-ICUs may fit within a hybrid model of care to complement high-intensity ICU staff coverage. However, more research is required to foster consensus and determine best practices. This review summarizes data on tele-ICU structure, operations, outcomes, and costs. Evidence was extracted from meta-analyses, with secondary data from Cleveland Clinic’s tele-ICU experience.


ICUintensive care unittelemedicinecritical careoutcomescost-effectiveness
  • Year: 2018
  • Volume: 14 Issue: 2
  • Page/Article: 126-133
  • DOI: 10.14797/mdcj-14-2-126
  • Published on 1 Apr 2018
  • Peer Reviewed