Emergency Care in Rural Areas Improved With Telemedicine

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In more than 40% of the encounters, a telemedicine provider was the first to see the patient.
In more than 40% of the encounters, a telemedicine provider was the first to see the patient.

HealthDay News — Telemedicine cuts emergency department door-to-provider time in rural hospitals, according to a study published in Telemedicine and e-Health.

Nicholas M. Mohr, MD, from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and colleagues measured the affect of emergency department-based telemedicine on the timeliness of care in rural hospitals, as measured by door-to-provider time. They performed a cohort study involving 2857 emergency department patients who consulted telemedicine and were matched (2:1) to non-telemedicine controls based on age, diagnosis, and hospital.

The researchers found that door-to-provider time was 6 minutes shorter in telemedicine patients. In 41.7% of the encounters, a telemedicine provider was the first to see the patient. In these cases, telemedicine occurred 14.7 minutes earlier than care by local providers. Overall, emergency department length of stay was 40.2 minutes longer for all telemedicine patients. However, emergency department length of stay was 22.1 minutes shorter in patients transferred to other hospitals.

"Future work will focus on the clinical impact of more timely rural emergency department care," wrote the authors.

Disclosures: Three study authors are employed by the Avera eCARE, which provides emergency department-based telemedicine services.

Reference

Mohr NM, Young T, Harland KK, et al. Emergency department telemedicine shortens rural time-to-provider and emergency department transfer time [published online January 2, 2018]. Telemed JE Health. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2017.0262

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