Intensive care unit clinicians at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust will keep an eye on critically ill patients via a telemonitoring system from Phillips.

The eICU program acts like an ‘eye in the sky’, providing around-the-clock patient monitoring by specialists, and will be the first of its kind in the UK and Europe.

A central team of experienced intensivists and nurses will monitor a patient’s condition remotely, using two-way audio and high definition video, including during nights and weekends.

This team can alert bedside physicians if a patient’s condition changes.

“ICU is one of the most challenging areas of the hospital – it is where doctors and nurses respond to the sickest, most vulnerable patients who can rapidly take a turn for the worse with little or no advance warning,” said Dr Richard Beale, consultant intensivist at Guy’s and St Thomas’.

“With Philips’ eICU program, the bedside clinical staff will have immediate access to a team of highly skilled senior colleagues who provide an added layer of support to help save lives, reduce complications and decrease the length of ICU stays.”

The system, supported by funding of £2.85m from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, is set to be implemented within a year, with technical preparations underway.

“We have just signed the agreement, so it’s still early days," Dr Beale told EHI.

"We have agreed that we’re going to start to do it but we’ve got to figure out exactly how.

"I think we’ll have implemented the technology in nine months and then take another year before we know how to use it properly. We probably won’t see benefits for another year after that.”

“It will probably cover about 70 beds if it’s successful we can see if we can spread it out. If it works we hope to be able to convince people to roll it out across the Kings Health Partners and that the wider NHS can see the benefits.”

Dr Beale added that the london project would be benchmarked against the best in the US.

Phillips said recent studies from the US, where the system is used in more than 300 hospitals, showed eICU had reduced the severity-adjusted hospital mortality rate by 27% and severity-adjusted length of stay by more than 23%.

Phillips Healthcare’s chief medical officer for telehealth, Brian Rosenfeld said: “We are confident that the introduction of the eICU program will help address the many challenges that the UK health care system and its hospitals are encountering, ultimately providing patients with the highest quality of care.”