VCU Health, EMS providers use telehealth for COVID-19 cases in rural areas

VCU Health, EMS providers use telehealth for COVID-19 cases in rural areas
This pilot program will allow the EMS agencies and VCU Health to rapidly make decisions about what is best for the patient, while also lowering the chance of additional exposure. (Source: pixabay)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - VCU Health and EMS providers will be using telehealth technology services for COVID-19 cases in rural areas of the state.

The program was designed by Benjamin Nicholson, M.D., a former flight paramedic with VCU Health who is now an EMS Fellow with VCU Health’s emergency department, and Lisa Dodd, D.O., an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine who also serves as the operational medical director for the partner EMS agencies.

VCU Health physicians are able to evaluate the patient and discuss the risks and benefits of transport to a hospital versus remaining in the home.

This pilot program will allow the EMS agencies and VCU Health to rapidly make decisions about what is best for the patient, while also lowering the chance of additional exposure.

The program will also reduce stress on EMS agencies and hospitals’ emergency departments that are facing rising numbers of COVID-19 patients.

“These efforts will help lessen emergency department surge visit volumes, EMS provider personal protective equipment use, EMS provider exposure time with potential COVID-19 patients, and the time an ambulance is out of service for its community,” said Harinder Dhindsa, M.D., Associate Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine in the VCU School of Medicine, and Medical Director of VCU Critical Care Transport.

The EMS agencies connect with VCU Health via a HIPAA-compliant communications platform, called Pulsara, that is approved by the VCU Health System and enables video chat between the VCU emergency medicine physician, the patient and the EMS provider.

Expansion for additional Virginia localities are being considered as well as services for patients with conditions other than COVID-19.

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