Dr. Talbot ‘Mac’ McCormick explains how and why a virtual pulmonary critical care physician is used to manage patients.
The pulmonary critical care physician is looking for the common denominator across all pulmonology patients, which is signs of respiratory failure. These are patients that are either in the ICU or are going to be headed to critical care. Maybe the patient is in the ED on a BiPap machine or on the floor on a bypass. That’s where we see a lot of demand for remote pulmonologists. These physicians manage patients on ventilators and on drips or sepsis patients with pneumonia.
What we see in the ICU unit is that a virtual pulmonary critical care physician is quite able to evaluate and see patients on a daily basis to perform rounds. Working with nurses and respiratory therapists, the TelePulmonologists manage vents and drips. This prevents the patient that is already in critical condition from being transferred. We find many hospitals especially with smaller ICUs — six beds or less — may not have a critical care physician available at night or on weekends. It may not make sense for the hospital to recruit an additional specialist because of the cost or the lack of available intensivists and pulmonologists.