Allegheny Health Network is launching Pennsylvania’s first Pre-hospital Telemedicine program for use in the Emergency Medical Services community. The Lower Kiski and A-K Pulser Emergency Medical Services crew connected its first patient from her home to an emergency room physician at Allegheny Valley Hospital on June 30. During the year-long pilot program patients will be able to connect to an emergency room physician using the Apple iPad.
“Telemedicine, the use of telecommunications technology to deliver health care, is a rapidly growing component of U.S. health care,” said Robert J. McCaughan, Vice President, Pre-hospital Care Services, at Allegheny Health Network. “This exciting innovation in Pre-hospital care is just the beginning of how we will be using telemedicine in our health care system in the coming years.”
Telemedicine, the use of telecommunications technology to deliver health care, is a rapidly growing component of U.S. health care.On the first telemedicine consult, A-K Pulser and Lower Kiski EMS responded to a call from 59-year-old Barbara Verdu of Leechburg, who was experiencing anxiety, sweating and shakiness related to her diabetes. She was pleased with the experience, which is a result of months of planning with officials at Allegheny Health Network, Allegheny Valley Hospital, A-K Pulser and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The telecommunications equipment was tested for its effectiveness and ease of use, as well as its compliance with patient privacy laws.
“The benefits of telemedicine to the patient are innumerable, offering direct in-home access to a physician who can see them and talk to them,” said Richard Gibbons, Director of the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, Pennsylvania Department of Health. “I’m very excited about the potential of this program and glad to see that it is happening in a community hospital such as Allegheny Valley.”
An emergency physician might refer a patient seen via telemedicine to an urgent care center, or advise the patient to call his or her primary care physician for an appointment. Patients must be conscious and alert, and must give spoken approval, to be treated via telemedicine.