Covid-19 project wins national award for ICU patient video link system

NUIG team developed system when hospital visiting restrictions were introduced in March

Dr Aoife Murray, NUI Galway and Irial Conroy, IBM, with Breda McColgan, PJ McKenna, and Brian O’Donoghue on the video calling system. Photograph: Aoife Morrissey/Saolta Communications

Dr Aoife Murray, NUI Galway and Irial Conroy, IBM, with Breda McColgan, PJ McKenna, and Brian O’Donoghue on the video calling system. Photograph: Aoife Morrissey/Saolta Communications

 

A new video call system developed in NUI Galway that connects patients in intensive care with their families, while there are Covid-19 restrictions on visits to hospitals, has won a Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) impact award.

The university worked with industry partners Cisco and IBM to deliver a state-of-the-art video call system – known as ICU FamilyLink – specifically for the intensive care unit setting at University Hospital Galway (UHG).

When hospital visiting restrictions were introduced in early March, the intensive care unit team at UHG was aware it was going to be very difficult to keep families and patients in the ICU updated and connected, particularly where family members may be in physical isolation in different locations.

To address these challenges, they reached out to their academic partners in NUIG, who in turn liaised with industry contacts in Galway and beyond.

With the ICU, clinical engineering and IT teams in UHG, they rapidly developed a video call system tailored for the ICU. The secure system is designed for easy set-up where close family members are invited by the nurse looking after the patient, to see and speak to their loved one. ICU FamilyLink also enables staff to advise the family and to discuss medical and treatment issues that arise.

Multiple bedspaces

Its stand out qualities include being easy for staff to use, even when wearing personal protective equipment and it has a large touchscreen with large buttons.

It also caters for multiple ICU bedspaces with one device, “that is still low-touch”. There is high audio quality, even with noisy ICU equipment in the vicinity, and good picture quality.

“This achievement is a positive reflection of the talent within the university; industry and hospital. It is also a reflection of the commitment to community in a time when it was so important to those affected by the pandemic,” said David Murphy, NUIG director of technology transfer and innovation.

The KTI awards recognise success in knowledge transfer in Irish higher education institutions and publicly-funded research organisations for the wider benefit of the economy and society at large. This project won in the Covid-19 response category.