Utilizing virtual ICU for family visitation during the COVID-19 pandemic: An interview with family members
TimeThursday, April 152:00pm - 3:00pm EDT
DescriptionDue to highly-contagious nature of COVID-19, hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs) have changed their visitation policy to stop spreading the virus among frontline workers, families, and ICU patients. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the restricted family visitation policy have resulted in large-scale anxiety. To mitigate such stress among family visitors and patients, a virtual ICU (vICU) was utilized in our large health system to bridge the gap via virtual visitation. The system is equipped with two-way audio-visual equipment installed in each ICU room. While this technology was primarily implemented to address the shortage of providers before the pandemic, it has a great potential to be used as a communication platform to connect family members with their loved ones. In the current study, the feelings and sentiments of family members were explored to identify areas of improvement. In three weeks, two nurses interviewed over 600 patients’ family members for 10-15 minutes after the virtual visit. Questions included asking about experienced feeling and challenges of visiting patients using this virtual platform. After transcribing the phone interviews, two researchers conducted an inductive thematic analysis and employed a Python library (Valence Aware Dictionary for sentiment Reasoner (VADER)) to conduct sentiment analysis of the shared comments. The analysis of results revealed that a high proportion (over 86%) of family visitors had positive sentiments towards the technology. Also, visitors reported technical difficulties (e.g., with microphone and camera) and lack of physical contact as communication barriers. Family visitors suggested having access to on-demand call with patients as well as with patients’ care team.