Is TeleSepsis The Answer?

June 23, 2014 by By InTouch Health

A new JAMA study confirms that the sepsis problem in U.S. hospitals is growing dramatically worse. Although sepsis occurs in just 10% of hospital patients, it’s responsible for about half of hospital deaths.

These findings are giving new impetus to the field of TeleSepsis, which is already helping to reduce sepsis mortality and hospital length of stay.

Remote presence can indeed play a preventive role because sepsis is not exclusively an ICU issue. Kaiser Permanente Northern California recently tracked six million hospitalizations and found that more than half of sepsis deaths were in patients with less severe cases, many of whom were treated in non-ICU settings. The study also revealed that sepsis was often present at time of admission.

Here’s how the Missouri-based Mercy system (highlighted in our previous blog) is using remote monitoring to look for warning signs of sepsis in the community setting:

Some sepsis cases can be identified prior to hospitalization by monitoring patients at home. The data gets uploaded to Mercy’s electronic health record, which has 800 red flags to spot patients at risk for sepsis. The team then alerts the local doctor, who takes the right actions to prevent it.

For patients already admitted to Mercy’s network affiliate hospitals, those who are at risk are placed in a virtual sepsis unit for closer monitoring. Caregivers at the outlying hospital can remotely consult with specialists at Mercy’s hub facility, who help identify patients who need an IV replacement or may be at risk for blood clots.

Modern Healthcare reports that Mercy’s TeleSepsis program has produced a nearly 50% reduction in deaths from sepsis – and is saving $25 million annually by reducing ICU length of stay.

For most hospitals, the sepsis crisis is deadly and expensive. TeleSepsis may be the magic bullet we’ve been waiting for.