DocBox Clinician Assistant: Bringing Advanced TeleICU Capabilities to Rural Communities

In rural areas, access to critical care resources and specialist physicians can be extremely limited. As of 2020, More than half of American counties have no hospital intensive care unit (ICU) beds. Many rural intensive care units lack around-the-clock intensivist coverage and may have staffing shortages of nurses with critical care training. This can impact the ability to provide optimal care for critically ill patients.

1. The Role of Telehealth in Rural America

According to the Census and OMB, 97 percent of the U.S. landmass is designated as rural, while approximately 14 percent of the population, totaling 46.1 million individuals according to the Rural Health Information Hub, reside in these areas. Maine, Vermont, West Virginia, and Mississippi are identified as the most rural states, with more than half of their residents living outside urban zones.

A study released in February 2024 by Chartis Center for Rural Health found that 50 percent of the country’s 1,810 rural community hospitals are operating at a loss, and 418 are vulnerable for closure

“In rural states, many people have trouble accessing specialty care, and healthcare wait times are long”, says Veenu Aulakh, executive director of the Center for Care Innovations. “Telehealth is taking off out of pure need and no other option”.

Telehealth technology proves particularly beneficial for patients managing chronic conditions, facilitating their connection with specialists. Doctors emphasize that telehealth can serve as a crucial lifeline for such patients.

For instance, Children’s Mercy Kansas City operates three telemedicine clinics linking pediatric patients with specialists across Kansas and Missouri, sparing families the burden of traveling long distances for consultations. These clinics cater to approximately 150 children monthly, granting them access to sought-after medical experts.

The hospital’s telemedicine initiative significantly aids in managing asthma cases among children. Each session encompasses a remote physical examination utilizing digital tools, medication evaluations, and discussions on an “asthma action plan” to handle potential attacks, as outlined by

2. Scoping review examined teleICU implementation and outcomes

A recent scoping review titled “Telemedicine in Intensive Care Units: Scoping Review” published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research examined evidence on teleICU implementation and outcomes. Conducted by researchers Camille Guinemer, Martin Boeker, Daniel Fürstenau et al. identified three common use cases:

  • Extending coverage, which describes interventions aimed at extending the availability of intensive care capabilities.
  • Improving compliance, including interventions targeted at improving patient safety, intensive care best practices, and quality of care. 
  • Facilitating transfer, describes telemedicine interventions targeted toward the management of patient transfers to or from the ICU.

When partnered through a well-defined collaborative model, teleICU demonstrates potential to close gaps in critical care access faced by rural hospitals by virtually extending specialized ICU resources and oversight.

3.  Leverage rural healthcare systems with DocBox’s Clinician Assistant

In rural areas, access to critical care resources and specialist physicians can be scarce, often leading to suboptimal care for critically ill patients. One promising solution is teleICU technology, which uses secure video-conferencing and remote monitoring to give rural ICUs access to intensivist physicians and critical care nurses 24/7. However, implementing an effective teleICU program requires an integrated technology platform. 

This is where DocBox’s Clinician Assistant platform comes in. The Clinician Assistant leverages DocBox’s innovative architecture to provide a comprehensive medical internet of things (IoT) platform tailored for teleICU and virtual healthcare delivery.

Key capabilities include:

  • Seamless integration of data from bedside medical devices, patient monitors, ventilators and other sources into a normalized, vendor-agnostic data stream
  • Secure, real-time communication framework for remote monitoring and medical device control
  • Advanced cybersecurity controls isolating hospital IT systems from medical devices
  • Integrated applications for flowsheets, trending, DICOM imaging and virtual assistant tools

With DocBox’s Clinician Assistant as the enabler, rural healthcare systems can leverage cutting-edge teleICU capabilities to optimize critical care resources and provide their communities with access to high-quality intensive care services around the clock.


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Related Posts