Digitising this data can help doctors and nurses to work faster and become better equipped to handle patient information

An intensive care unit (ICU) is the area within a hospital that is most influenced by the growing presence of medical devices – machines that hold the extraordinary potential to reshape how patient care is delivered. There are no other medical specialties where so much patient data is generated at an unprecedented pace. This data, in all dimensions, is not easily comprehensible by the human brain and would potentially further add to the cognitive burden of doctors and nurses, if they are presented in their raw format. Digitisation and advanced analytics offer an attractive solution to information overload in the ICU.

Digitisation will ease the burden of documentation

The stakes are high in the ICU where critically ill patients are very much dependent on organ support. Each patient has up to ten medical devices that continuously monitor relevant clinical parameters to provide feedback to doctors and nurses. But it is not sustainable for them to sift through, document, and evaluate such a large amount of information manually.

“A digital system in the ICU is perfect to take away this burden to record every action. A nurse can perform more effectively, knowing that all data has been recorded by the system,” says Christina Bartholdy, a senior intensive care nurse, and clinical consultant at Cambio.

The continuum of intensive care does not end with a discharge from the unit. Excellent care must extend beyond the ICU to include consideration of how a patient will be taken care of after surviving the critical phase. “The specialist system must connect well with the EHR too to ensure the continuum of care is not broken,” Helena Levinson, senior consultant at Cambio adds.

Seamless integration between a specialist system, such as the Cambio CIS ICU, with a generic EHR system, such as COSMIC, could provide comprehensive coverage for almost all information needed by the intensive care doctors and nurses.

Digitisation is a must in order not to fall behind

The traditional pen-and-paper model can no longer support the increasingly complex ICU environment. As the density of data will grow exponentially over the coming years, ICUs should begin preparation to face the incoming tsunami of data.

According to a Deloitte study on European healthcare, 65% of clinicians had increased the adoption of digital technologies to support their ways of working. Norway recorded the highest rate of change (83.6%) while Germany had the lowest (39.6%)(1). Regardless, unwilling to lag behind in digital maturity, the German federal government (Bundestag) has pledged €4.3billion to push for digital health innovation in one of Europe’s largest healthcare markets (2).

Moving forward, successful digital transformations of intensive care can help doctors to accomplish more by reducing time spent on non-clinical work. Intensive care medicine can take another step forward to transition from “technology buyer” to “transformation partner” with technology companies like Cambio Healthcare to further enhance technical capabilities in critical areas. As George Westerman of MIT once famously said “when digital transformation is done right, it’s like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, but when done wrong, all you have is a really fast caterpillar.”


1 Deloitte LLP. (2020). Digital transformation: Shaping the future of European healthcare.
2 Lovell T. (2021) German hospitals receive digital health boost. Healthcare IT News. https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/emea/german-hospitals-receive-digital-health-boost

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