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Health System Launches ED-Focused Telemedicine Pilot

June 12, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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The University of California (UC), San Diego Health System is set to launch a telemedicine pilot initiative that will aim to address overcrowded emergency departments (EDs), the organization announced this week.

Researchers at UC San Diego will use cameras to bring on-call doctors who are outside of the hospital to the patient in need.  The offsite doctor will be paged, linked remotely to a telemedicine station, and will be able to see the patient. The technology will allow physicians to examine a patient’s eyes, ears, nose, throat and skin, as well as listen to heart and lung sounds through the module.

Documentation and ordering will be linked to an electronic medical record. Patients, who must sign a consent form to participate in the study, will be seen based on arrival time and level of medical need.

The telemedicine study will look to see if hospitals and providers can reduce the number of patients who leave the ED without being seen by a physician.  “With the ED physicians on site and an added telemedicine physician, patient care may be significantly expedited.  If the use of a telemedicine evaluation can be shown to be safe and effective, it may shift how care in the emergency department is delivered,” explained David Guss, M.D., principal investigator and chair of the department of emergency medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

The study, which is supported by a $50,000 University of California Health Quality Improvement (CHQI) grant, is the first of its kind in California, according to UC San Diego.

Another state school in California, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), recently announced it has been granted a $1.6 million research award to study how telemedicine can be used to deliver behavioral health services to pediatric patients in community primary care settings.

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