Virtual visiting in intensive care

Mobile technology is keeping patients, relatives and staff connected in intensive care units.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs) have placed restrictions on visiting to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This has impacted on the ability for families and carers to visit loved ones. The provision of iPads, with appropriate video capabilities, enables patients and their loved ones to remain connected and communicate with each other.


  • Reduces anxiety in relatives who cannot visit loved ones.
  • Gives family members the opportunity to be involved in clinical decisions during the multidisciplinary team rounds.
  • Enables access to spiritual care or other support, as needed.


iPads have been provided to all local health districts in NSW. The ACI and eHealth partnered to develop a ‘virtual visiting room’ for intensive care patients. eHealth committed 100 iPads to the 41 ICUs in NSW public hospitals in a quick rollout.

Five sites participated in a three-week pilot which included a brief evaluation. The remaining iPads were then distributed the other ICUs.

The iPads remain the property of the ICUs and can be used to support virtual care, as needed.

The Intensive Care Virtual Communication project supports the implementation of the eHealth NSW Virtual care statewide clinical technology strategy to support the NSW Health COVID-19 response (Virtual Care Strategy).


These videos have been developed to support staff and patients to use the iPads.

Nurse managed virtual visiting

Using an iPad for virtual visiting

Publication details

Version 1. Published August 2021. Next review 2026.


The information on this page is general in nature and cannot reflect individual patient variation. It reflects Australian intensive care practice, which may differ from that in other countries. It is intended as a supplement to the more specific information provided by the doctors and nurses caring for your loved one. ICNSW attests to the accuracy of the information contained here but takes no responsibility for how it may apply to an individual patient. Please refer to the full disclaimer.