The current COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant strain on medical centers resources and posed a significant number of challenges for the medical staff. However, medical centers are now responding to the pandemic through rapid adoption of digital tools and technologies, altering the way medical practitioners provide care to patients. The University Hospital RWTH Aachen is participating in a new concept brought forward by North Rhine-Westphalia – the Virtual Hospital North Rhine-Westphalia.
On 30 March 2020 the NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet opened the so-called “Virtual Hospital” at Aachen University Hospital. The idea was to create a Europe-wide unique network for telemedical support for the treatment of patients with Covid-19, and make specialist expertise accessible nationwide.
Through the “Virtual hospital” over 200 hospitals in the state can access the intensive care and infectiology expertise of the university hospitals in Aachen and Münster in the case of severe inpatient Covid 19 courses via so-called teleconsiles. A total of 843 consultations were carried out in 97 patients in this preliminary stage of the process.
The feedback from the hospitals was consistently positive: Doctors reported back that the teleconsiles with the colleagues from the university hospitals in Aachen and Münster gave them a high degree of treatment security. The numbers reflect this assessment: at 20.6 percent, the mortality rate is significantly below the national average of 25 percent for intensive care patients treated with Covid 19.
Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Gernot Marx, Clinic Director for Operative Intensive Care Medicine and Intermediate Care at the University Hospital Aachen and responsible for the management and control of the pre-stage of the virtual hospital, confirms: “The provision of intensive care expertise via teleconsile proves to be a very successful means in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, to ensure the care of seriously ill citizens. The plan to use the intensive medicine resource as effectively as possible has worked out perfectly. If I take a look into the future, I am therefore very optimistic that we are well equipped in NRW should there be a second wave of corona.”