To say that the ICU is a complex and overwhelming environment is like saying that global warming is bad: technically correct but profoundly understated. Small margins for error combined with enormous consequences to survival and future quality of life make critical care medicine a high-stakes profession that is not for the faint of heart. If you step into an ICU, the relentless blinking displays from the myriad of devices will immediately instill in you the anxiety of a person drowning in a prefect storm of data. Even as an outside observer you can understand that each of the flashing numbers draws a line between life and death and feel the pressure that both the care providers and the family experience as they share their faith for nurturing the human at the center of these monitors back to their normal life.
But what if there were no monitors? What if the blinking demarcations were silenced and only seen when clinically relevant? What if the “perfect storm of data” was mastered and calmed for the benefit of the patient, the clinicians, and the patient’s family?
At Etiometry we have always aspired to transforming the ICU data into actionable information and our “digital twin” driven analytics is the first-of-its kind technology to synthesize the flashing numbers into modifiable physiologic risks. The displays dedicated to our Platform in our customers’ busy patient rooms are testaments of our value in alleviating the overwhelming complexity (and stress) within the ICU environment. However, the question that I want to pose is what’s next? How can we go beyond the value brought by analytics and re-envision a new quieter ICU, where the cacophony of data is completely replaced by the calm of information?
My personal opinion is that augmented reality may profoundly change the ICU experience for the providers, the patients, and their families. I can imagine a much more peaceful patient room where salient information is provided to the right stakeholder at the right time as they take a look at the patient through literally new lenses. A respiratory therapist entering a patient room can see an image overlaid on the ventilator of current respiratory risks and be guided through potential ventilator adjustments; a nurse may be prompted by ongoing hemodynamic instability and see indicators on the infusion pumps for suggested adjustments in vasoactive medications; a resident may be directed through a physical examination by “clues” superimposed on the patient, based on the most recent labs and monitoring data, all while the family is spared the blinking lights of false alarms and the anxiety caused by data artifacts.
However, to achieve this future we need to completely rethink ICU monitoring. The raw signals even presented through new augmented reality displays will still be overwhelming. The first step toward this brave new future is turning data into actionable information and we at Etiometry are demonstrating how this can be done. On this foundation, we can re-envision a new type of ICU monitoring, which is poor in ICU monitors but rich in actionable information.