Intensive care unit (ICU) telemedicine improves access to high quality critical care, has substantial costs, and can change financial outcomes. Detailed information about financial outcomes and their trends over time following tele-ICU implementation and after the addition of logistic center function has not been published.
Primary data were collected for consecutive adult patients of a single academic medical center. We compared clinical and financial outcomes across 3 groups that differed with regard to telemedicine support: a group without tele-ICU support (Pre-ICU intervention group), a group with tele-ICU support (ICU Telemedicine group) and a tele-ICU group with added logistical center functions and support for quality care standardization (Logistic Center Group). The primary outcome was annual direct contribution margin defined as aggregated annual case revenue minus annual case direct costs (including operating costs of ICU telemedicine and its related programs). All monetary values were adjusted to 2015 US dollars, using producer price index for healthcare facilities.
Annual case volume increased from 4,752 (Pre-ICU Telemedicine) to 5,735 (ICU Telemedicine) and 6,581 (Logistic Center). Annual direct contribution margin improved from $7,921,584 (Pre-ICU Telemedicine) to $37,668,512 (ICU Telemedicine) to $60,586,397 (Logistic Center) due to increased case volume, higher case revenue relative to direct costs, and shorter length of stay (LOS).
The ability of properly modified ICU telemedicine programs to increase case volume and access to high quality critical care with improved annual direct contribution margin suggests that there is a financial argument to encourage the wider adoption of ICU telemedicine.