In our last blog, Lessons Learned from Telehealth in 2021, we discussed how telehealth and telemedicine drove innovation in EMS-Hospital communication, consultation, and collaboration between healthcare providers. In this article, we share related boots-on-the-ground success stories to help kick start additional programs in 2022.
In 2021, EMS and Hospital users of GD solutions across the country, in both bustling cities and rural areas, saw a variety of benefits using the e-Bridge mobile telemedicine app. They experienced increased communication and collaboration among healthcare professionals regardless of location and decreased workload for healthcare teams as a result. They used video conferencing for ET3 that allows for treatment in place, transport to alternate care facilities, and triage intervention and saw savings in time, money and so much more, all leading to better patient care and increasing telehealth success in 2021. Here are insights from four user case studies.
The University of Arizona Health Sciences and Banner – University Medical Center Tucson launched a prehospital communication pilot project in 2021 using telehealth to increase productivity, treat patients faster, and reduce risk. The Arizona Rural EMS Advanced Telemedicine Demonstration Initiative (AzREADI) is serving two rural EMS agencies: the Rio Rico Medical and Fire District and the Sonoita-Elgin Fire District. AzREADI uses e-Bridge Connect to enable this rapid, HIPAA-secure live video communication.
Richard Johnson, Deputy Chief of the Rio Rico Medical and Fire District, values the support that e-Bridge gives to his EMS responders. Particularly in rural areas, the immediacy of having live video consultations with ED physicians while in the field can be life-saving and has led to telehealth success in 2021.
“The ability for them to contact a physician and, via the technology, hear the medical recommendation is a great comfort to me as a supervisor, knowing that my personnel is supported to that extent regardless of their location,” he said.
Grayslake Fire-EMS is one of five fire and EMS agencies in Lake County, Illinois, participating in a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services pilot program to improve the quality of care for seniors. Through the Emergency Triage, Treat and Transport (ET3) payment model, the pilot program participants can transport Medicare Fee for Service beneficiaries who call 911 to care sites other than the ED and treat seniors on-site if a health care provider is at the scene or available through telehealth services that provide live video, messaging, or calls.
For Grayslake, e-Bridge is the key to making ET3 possible, as it connects fire and EMS personnel with practitioners through HIPAA-secure live video. Oftentimes, patients are treated without having to leave the comfort of their homes. In other cases, when it is necessary to be transported to the emergency room, speaking with a practitioner through a live video first may give a reluctant patient the confidence to head to the hospital.
That was exactly the case Grayslake EMS experienced with two senior patients. Both of these patients initially did not want transport to the hospital and were ready to “refuse against medical advice”. Through e-Bridge’s secure live video capabilities, ED physicians were able to see and engage with EMS and these reluctant patients and convince them to come to the hospital for the care they needed. The providers and patients being able to see, hear and interact with one another changed the dynamics of these situations and facilitated “transport with medical advice” through telehealth in 2021.
Baystate Medical Center (Springfield MA) has achieved an exceptional door-to-balloon time (D2B) of just 15 minutes using GD’s mobile telemedicine app e-Bridge to improve process and patient care for STEMI, a type of heart attack that requires rapid acute care.
“This is a historic record for Baystate Health and a testament to the teamwork and collaboration that happens on a daily basis,” said Alina Capatina, ACS/STEMI program coordinator at Baystate.
In this instance, the Monson Fire Department EMS used e-Bridge to send critical patient information to the Emergency Department 22 minutes before patient arrival. The Baystate ED team immediately reviewed the case and activated the STEMI team 17 minutes before patient arrival. Through e-Bridge, the rest of the team was notified of the real-time ETA and that the patient should be taken directly to the cath lab where all equipment and personnel were waiting. Heart and Vascular Critical Care (HVCC) fellows and residents were already monitoring the case via e-Bridge.
Upon arrival, Baystate’s interventional cardiologist evaluated the patient in the ambulance bay, the ED team immediately registered the patient, the patient was transferred directly to the cath lab and received post-procedure care in the HVCC.
“This is a big win for our STEMI program and Baystate as a whole,” said Capatina. “I spoke to the patient after their procedure and they were very pleased with their care, as well as relieved for feeling better so soon!”
For the last 25 years, Oakland County EMS in Michigan has been using the same 800 MHz radios, which were designed for police officer dispatch in the 1980s. Allowing EMS only 30 seconds to relay an audio message to the ED, this method of communication doesn’t function the way EMS needs it to – and it costs $50 million in infrastructure to upgrade. In late 2020, the Oakland County Medical Control Authority (OCMCA) decided that to improve process and patient care, they needed to conduct a search for state-of-the-art telehealth solutions for emergency response team communication. They chose e-Bridge.
“e-Bridge is our solution to the antiquated 800 MHz radio systems in Michigan,” said Bonine Kincaid, OCMCA Executive Director. “But it’s not just about radios. It’s about changing the way we communicate with the hospitals and how patients benefit. This is changing patient care for the better.”
After a year, every hospital in the county is set up to receive communication from e-Bridge. Two other counties in Michigan – McComb and St. Claire – have now joined the OCMCA, allowing for clear and reliable communication across county lines. Kincaid is working to get more and more EMS agencies, hospitals and counties on board.
About GD (General Devices)
GD is a NJ-based med tech company specializing in mobile telemedicine and telehealth solutions that help EMS and fire first responders, hospitals, and Mobile Integrated Healthcare deliver smarter, expedient patient care. Powered by responsive innovation, GD’s user-friendly solutions facilitate secure, mobile communications and rapid data sharing across acute and non-acute care teams to help save time, money and lives. Backed by a 40+ year history and thousands of implementations, GD is a widely revered industry leader. Visit https://general-devices.com/ to learn more.