Telemedicine Implementation in COVID-19 ICU: Balancing Physical and Virtual Forms of Visibility

Nirit Putievsky Pilosof, Michael Barrett, Eivor Oborn, Galia Barkai, Itai M. Pessach, Eyal Zimlichman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: This case study examines the implementation of inpatient telemedicine in COVID-19 intensive care units (ICUs) and explores the impact of shifting forms of visibility on the management of the unit, staff collaboration, and patient care. Background: The COVID-19 crisis drove healthcare institutions to rapidly develop new models of care based on integrating digital technologies for remote care with transformations in the hospital-built environment. The Sheba Medical Center in Israel created COVID-19 ICUs in an underground structure with an open-ward layout and telemedicine control rooms to remotely supervise, communicate, and support the operations in the contaminated zones. One unit had a physical visual connection between the control room and the contaminated zone through a window, while the other had only a virtual connection with digital technologies. Methods: The findings are based on semistructured interviews with Sheba medical staff, telemedicine companies, and the architectural design team and observations at the COVID-19 units during March–August 2020. Results: The case study illustrates the implications of virtual and physical visibility on the management of the unit, staff collaboration, and patient care. It demonstrates the correlations between patterns of visibility and the users’ sense of control, orientation in space, teamwork, safety, quality of care, and well-being. Conclusions: The case study demonstrates the limitations of current telemedicine technologies that were not designed for inpatient care to account for the spatial perception of the unit and the dynamic use of the space. It presents the potential of a hybrid model that balances virtual and physical forms of visibility and suggests directions for future research and development of inpatient telemedicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-48
Number of pages15
JournalHERD
Volume14
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • control room
  • healthcare design
  • inpatient telemedicine
  • model of care
  • visibility

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