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To Fight Coronavirus, GE Healthcare Is Working With European Hospitals To Help Them Expand ICU Capacity

Dorothy Pomerantz
March 25, 2020

Hospitals in Europe and around the world are racing to add beds in their intensive care units for seriously ill patients suffering from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Medical facilities are converting beds from operating and recovery rooms, securing more ventilators, monitors, ultrasounds and other equipment, and enlisting more doctors and nurses to help.
The World Health Organization declared Europe the “epicenter” of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March. And in the U.S., hospitals already are seeing an influx of cases.

As patients start arriving in hospitals, medical staff are desperately short on time. One tool that can help them coordinate care is software that tracks data for individual patients and provides an overview of the next steps needed for all patients in the ICU. Simplifying the monitoring process can help hospitals treat the surge in patients more quickly and can better support medical staff who might normally work outside the ICU.

To help European hospitals manage their patients in the extended ICU beds quickly, GE Healthcare is offering the hospitals increased access to its software platforms that allow doctors and nurses to digitally document patients’ vital signs. One hospital using the software reports saving at least 10 hours per week that would have been spent manually documenting patients’ blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels and other crucial data. The hospital has also been able to reduce a patient’s time in the ICU by 19% — savings that open beds faster. Automatic device data collection, providing notifications and structured documentation adapted to critical care are more crucial than ever as coronavirus patients overwhelm intensive care units. France's Central Hospital of Charleville-Mézières said that "this is helping us to prepare our department for extended management of COVID-19 patients."

GE provides free additional licenses to existing high acuity care customers during the peak of the crisis. The two software platforms, called Centricity Critical Care and Centricity High Acuity Critical Care, are licensed for several thousand ICU beds across Europe. In recent days, hospital customers have requested licenses to dramatically scale up their bed capacity where doubling their capacity is not an exception.

“Healthcare authorities have seen what this disease can do,” says Peter van Heezik, GE Healthcare digital solutions marketing manager for Europe. “They are very much aware and are getting prepared by scaling up their intensive care departments.”

GE also is helping to speed up the distribution of hardware that supports these software platforms. One important hardware component allows hospital staff to connect medical devices such as ventilators to the platform to automatically gather patient data. In addition, GE is providing free online education materials to medical staff who are learning to use these solutions.

“We realize that this is the moment we can really make a difference, with our customers and for our customers,” van Heezik says.

Top image: Digital tracking of patients’ vital data saves precious time for medical staff treating a surge of patients. The image reflects an ICU set-up before the COVID-19 situation. Image credit: GE Healthcare.