HealthDay News — According to a study published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, the addition of a full-time trained communication facilitator in the intensive care unit (ICU) may improve quality of care as well as reduce costs.

Nita Khandelwal, MD, from the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues assessed the economic feasibility of staffing ICUs with a communication facilitator. This was measured through 135 patients admitted to the ICU at a single hospital. 

All patients had predicted mortality ≥30% and a surrogate decision maker.

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The researchers found that total ICU costs (mean, $22.8k; P=.02) and average daily ICU costs (mean, −$0.38k; P=.006) were significantly lower with the intervention. With a 1.0 full-time equivalent facilitator and predicted ICU mortality of 15%, the simulation demonstrated a total weekly ICU cost savings of $58,400 and weekly direct-variable savings of $5700, after incorporating facilitator costs.

“Adding a full-time trained communication facilitator in the ICU may improve quality of care while simultaneously reducing short- (direct-variable) and long-term (total) health care costs,” the authors write. “This intervention is likely [to] be more cost-effective in a lower mortality population.”


Khandelwal N, et al. “Economic Feasibility Of Staffing The Intensive Care Unit With A Communication Facilitator”. Ann. Am. Thorac. Soc. 2016 September 27. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201606-449OC. [Epub ahead of print]

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