The THALEA experts are researching how telemedicine and telemonitoring can be used to treat patients at intensive care units (ICUs). It is also a pilot project for a new type of tender procedure known as pre-commercial procurement (PCP).
International research has shown that telemedicine and telemonitoring in ICUs can reduce mortality rates, decrease hospitalisation time and improve the quality of life in former patients.
The THALEA project aims to follow ICU patients in various hospitals from a central 'cockpit' location. In this cockpit, a team of experts (known as the remote ICU team) will continuously monitor different values, such as blood pressure, insulin levels, dehydration, medication and dozens of other indicators, procedures and guidelines.
"As soon as we notice a problem, an employee in the cockpit will be notified via the system to contact the on-duty ICU doctor," explains Daniel Dahms from the University Hospital Aachen. "The ICU doctor will be advised and supported in carrying out the right protocol for that situation."
Telemonitoring: Mortality and length of stay drops
Several ICUs in major US hospitals have used this central monitoring technique for some time now and the figures are proving how successful this modern approach can be: Before telemonitoring, the average ICU mortality rate was 13.8 percent. This figure dropped to 11.8 percent with the introduction of telemonitoring and targeted interventions. The average length of stay on these ICUs also dropped from 9.8 days to 6.4 days.
Remarkably, more patients went home after having been telemonitored during their ICU stay, which means they enjoyed a higher average quality of life than patients who were not able to return home after receiving more traditional treatment.
PCP: An innovative European tender process
"Developing the software needed to effectively run the ICU cockpit is now possible thanks to an innovative European tender process known as pre-commercial procurement, or PCP," explains Robert Deisz, vice coordinator of the project at the University Hospital Aachen. "This method is being applied for the first time in Germany and for the second time in the Netherlands."
This innovative tender process, which involves extensive research on the actual procurement expected in the future, consists of three phases:
The preparatory phase was finalised in November 2013 and the pre-commercial phase was recently launched. This started with an open dialogue between the eight THALEA partners and potential software suppliers.
"This PCP is a unique way to challenge entrepreneurs to develop new products and services for hospitals. PCP is extremely relevant to buyers looking for a solution to their problem," Dr Deisz explains.
Dr Deisz: "The EU has agreed to support this pre-commercial public tender because it stimulates companies to become actively involved in the innovation chain."
The current PCP phase will also include the development of prototypes and test series. This phase should give clients and suppliers a good idea of the possibilities and limitations of this project. The PCP phase will be followed by a public tender that should trigger the commercial rollout of the IC cockpit software phase.
The THALEA partners:
Facts & figures: