Intensive care unit telemedicine is an innovative approach to providing critical care services for a broad geographic area, but its success may depend on acceptance by bedside providers.
To determine critical care nurses’ attitudes toward and perceptions about the use of telemedicine in critical care.
A total of 179 nurses in 3 critical care units in 2 university-affiliated academic hospitals that use telemedicine intensivists and nurses were surveyed via the Internet about their practice and perceptions of telemedicine.
Among the 93 respondents (response rate, 52%), 72 worked at least 1 night shift and therefore had experience with the telemedicine unit. Reported contact with the telemedicine unit was relatively infrequent: 31% reported being called by the unit 3 or more times in the preceding 6 months. A total of 44% reported regularly incorporating interventions suggested by the telemedicine staff. A majority (72%) thought that telemedicine increases patients’ survival, but fewer thought that telemedicine prevents medical errors (47%) or improves the satisfaction of patients’ families (42%). Some respondents thought that telemedicine interrupted work flow (9%), was intrusive (11%), or resulted in a feeling of being spied upon (13%). Most nurses thought that personally knowing the telemedicine physician was important (79%), and nurses were more likely to contact the telemedicine unit if they knew the physician on call (61%).
Practicing bedside nurses with experience in telemedicine generally support its use, but concerns about privacy issues and the desire to personally know the telemedicine physician may hinder broader application of the technology.