6 ways to increase ICU capacity amid COVID-19

Judging from the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., April will see ICU capacity strained in many regions of the country. It’s already begun in New York City, Seattle, New Orleans, and elsewhere.

Health care CEOs are trying to figure out how to increase intensive care unit capacity, whether through internal or external resources, traditional or non-traditional methods.

“The biggest shift we’re seeing is health systems beginning to transform their facilities to become ICUs,” said Amwell President and CEO Roy Schoenberg, MD. “I can’t think of any health system that we serve that is not in some shape or form jumping into this COVID-19 fight. They all got the messaging.”

A recent article in Health Evolution listed six ways health care stakeholders are expanding their ICU capacity to deal with coronavirus.

Canceling elective surgeries and non-essential care/repurposing other hospital units. Most health care providers have already taken this step. Elective surgeries are a significant revenue generator for hospitals, but CEOs have realized those beds are needed to deal with critical COVID-19 cases.

Using ambulatory surgical centers. According to new data from Array Analytics, these centers could increase ICU capacity by as much as 60 percent in some areas. Ambulatory surgical centers could provide facilities for providers to care for essential non-elective acute-care medical patients, reserve resources, and protect frontline caregivers.

Converting hotels, convention centers, and dorms. State governments and health care organizations are getting creative. Hotels are being converted into makeshift ICUs in New York City and Chicago. Convention centers in New York City, Atlantic City, and New Orleans are being transformed into makeshift hospitals. In many regions, dormitory buildings are being considered for hospital overflow.

Collaborating with other health systems and local officials. Health systems in New York City, New Orleans, Portland, and elsewhere are forgetting about competition and operating as a cohesive unit to deal with COVID-19. They are also collaborating with local officials to create a uniform triage strategy.

Virtual care. Health care organizations across the U.S. are using virtual care to treat routine and non-essential care. Telemedicine usage has surged, and some health systems are using remote patient monitoring and launching “virtual hospitals” to deal with COVID-19 patients who don’t need intensive care.

Modular hospitals. The idea of modular or prefabricated hospitals is being developed by several firms.

Read the full article here.