A Comprehensive EMS Telemedicine System
by Michael Smith and Chad Guillot
(The following is part one of a three part series on EMS telemedicine.)
BR Med-Connect is an EMS telemedicine system recently installed in East Baton Rouge Parish (BR), Louisiana. Currently in a pilot phase, the system is fully functional and is now being used for actual patient care. The system has been planned by, and is now managed by an interdisciplinary team representing each of the system’s key components. This team has selected and begun to implement a diverse group of medical applications for actual patient care and study purposes. It is expected that the program will prove successful and cause many in EMS to revisit their concept of EMS telemedicine.
BR Med-Connect began as the dream of Dr. Cullen Hebert, a pulmonologist at Our Lady of the Lake (OLOL) Medical Center in Baton Rouge, who wanted to employ better ways to deliver health care services throughout the 471 square miles Parish, and, in particular, in the more rural areas. Among the special problems he needed to overcome was the demographic diversity of the region, going from the 75 square mile urban area of the City of Baton Rouge, pop. 230,000, home to three universities, the largest oil refinery in the United States and a major hub for the Transcontinental Gas pipeline, to the rest of BR, with a population of over 180,000, largely poor and living in a highly rural setting. Spurred on by what he saw during Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Hebert’s thoughts went immediately to the Parish’s highly developed EMS System and the use of telemedicine technologies.