MyICUvoice – Cambridge Festival
Dr Tim Baker will tell you about myICUvoice, an iPad app which gives a voice to ICU patients unable to communicate due to needing a tracheostomy, being supported by a ventilator or weakened from being critically ill. Crucially it enables medical teams to communicate more effectively with patients, understand and treat previously unidentified symptoms quicker and improve outcomes.
The App – which was initially developed with the help of a £40,000 development grant from the hospital’s NHS charity, Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust – features easy-to-use touch screen technology, which allows patients to tap on simple icons to respond to questions.
Research has shown that, for ICU patients, the inability to communicate is the most distressing and frustrating part of being critically ill in ICU – with over 20% of patients who survive ICU suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression after being discharged.
Dr Tim Baker developed myICUvoice after recognising the urgent need for his patients to communicate their symptoms and emotions when they were unable to speak. Ventilators prevent the vocal chords from working, and critically ill patients are often too weak to write down or mouth their messages, meaning there is often no communication at all.
The personal communication afforded by the app has been equally beneficial.
Dr Mark Jefferys, a Specialist Registrar currently using the App with COVID-19 patients in ICU, says: “One of our patients used myICUvoice to ask about her son. It was only then that we realised she had become convinced he had died – and we were able to get him on a videocall later that day to reassure her.
“Using myICUvoice for communication has also made me realise that patients have so many symptoms I wouldn’t even have thought to ask about. So many of these are easily fixed if only we had a way of knowing about them – which we now do.”
The app is currently being translated into multiple languages so it can benefit people around the world.