Telemedicine, the use of audiovisual technology to provide health care from a remote location, is increasingly used in intensive care units (ICUs). However, studies evaluating the impact of ICU telemedicine show mixed results, with some studies demonstrating improved patient outcomes, while others show limited benefit or even harm. Little is known about the mechanisms that influence variation in ICU telemedicine effectiveness, leaving providers without guidance on how to best use this potentially transformative technology. The Contributors to Effective Critical Care Telemedicine (ConnECCT) study aims to fill this knowledge gap by identifying the clinical and organizational factors associated with variation in ICU telemedicine effectiveness, as well as exploring the clinical contexts and provider perceptions of ICU telemedicine use and its impact on patient outcomes, using a range of qualitative methods. In this report, we describe the study protocol, data collection methods, and planned future analyses of the ConnECCT study. Over the course of 1 year, the study team visited purposefully sampled health systems across the United States that have adopted telemedicine. Data collection methods included direct observations, interviews, focus groups, and artifact collection. Data were collected at the ICUs that provide in-person critical care as well as at the supporting telemedicine units. Iterative thematic content analysis will be used to identify and define key constructs related to telemedicine effectiveness and describe the relationship between them. Ultimately, the study results will provide a framework for more effective implementation of ICU telemedicine, leading to improved clinical outcomes for critically ill patients.
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