Descriptive Comparison of Two Models of Tele-Critical Care Delivery in a Large Multi-Hospital Health Care System


Introduction: The Society of Critical Care Medicine Tele-Critical Care (TCC) Committee has identified the need for rigorous comparative research of different TCC delivery models to support the development of best practices for staffing, application, and approaches to workflow. Our objective was to describe and compare outcomes between two TCC delivery models, TCC with 24/7 Bedside Intensivist (BI) compared with TCC with Private Daytime Attending Intensivist (PI) in relation to intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital mortality, ICU and hospital length of stay (LOS), cost, and complications across the spectrum of routine ICU standards of care. Methods: Observational cohort study at large health care system in 12 ICUs and included patients, ≥18, with Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) IVa scores and predictions (October 2016-June 2019). Results: Of the 19,519 ICU patients, 71.7% (n = 13,993) received TCC with 24/7 BI while 28.3% (n = 5,526) received TCC with PI. ICU and Hospital mortality (4.8% vs. 3.1%, p < 0.0001; 12.6% vs. 8.1%, p < 0.001); and ICU and Hospital LOS (3.2 vs. 2.4 days, p < 0.001; 9.8 vs. 7.2 days, p < 0.001) were significantly higher among 24/7 BI compared with PI. The APACHE observed/expected ratios (odds ratio [OR]; 95% confidence interval [CI]) for ICU mortality (0.62; 0.58-0.67) vs. (0.53; 0.46-0.61) and Hospital mortality (0.95; 0.57-1.48) vs. (0.77; 0.70-0.84) were significantly different for 24/7 BI compared with PI. Multivariate mixed models that adjusted for confounders demonstrated significantly greater odds of (OR; 95% CI) ICU mortality (1.58; 1.28-1.93), Hospital mortality (1.52; 1.33-1.73), complications (1.55; 1.18-2.04), ICU LOS [3.14 vs. 2.59 (1.25; 1.19-1.51)], and Hospital LOS [9.05 vs. 7.31 (1.23; 1.21-1.25)] among 24/7 BI when compared with PI. Sensitivity analyses adjusting for ICU admission within 24 h of hospital admission, receiving active ICU treatments, nighttime admission, sepsis, and highest third acute physiology score indicated significantly higher odds for 24/7 BI compared with PI. Conclusion: Our comparison demonstrated that TCC delivery model with PI provided high-quality care with significant positive effects on outcomes. This suggests that TCC delivery models have broad-ranging applicability and benefits in routine critical care, thus necessitating progressive research in this direction.

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