Skip to content Skip to navigation

Telemedicine Program in Pittsburgh Connects Patients to EDs Via iPads

August 8, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints

The Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Health Network has launched a pre-hospital telemedicine program for use in the emergency medical services community, becoming the first in the state to do so, its officials say.

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. The year-long pilot program, in which patients in their homes can speak directly to an emergency room physician via an iPad connection, offers new opportunities for EMS providers and patients who don’t want, or don’t need, to go to the emergency room.
On the first telemedicine consult, A-K Pulser and Lower Kiski EMS responded to a call from 59-year-old Barbara Verdu of Leechburg, Pa., who was experiencing anxiety, sweating and shakiness related to her diabetes. To Verdu’s amazement, they connected her via an iPad with Allegheny Valley Hospital emergency medicine physician Andrea Fisk, M.D., who had the chance to actually look at the patient while asking her questions, and cleared her to stay home and out of the hospital.
This consultation took place after 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, according to the health network.
An emergency physician might also 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.
“Telemedicine, the use of telecommunications technology to deliver healthcare, is a rapidly growing component of U.S. healthcare,” Robert J. McCaughan, vice president, pre-hospital care services, at Allegheny Health Network, said in a statement. “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.”


Insurers to CBO: Consider Private Insurers’ Data in Evaluations of Telemedicine

Eleven private insurers, including Aetna, Humana and Anthem, are urging the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to consider the experience of commercial insurers when evaluating the impact of telemedicine coverage in Medicare.

AHRQ Developing New Patient Safety Surveillance Tool

With the aim of improving patient safety monitoring, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is currently developing and testing an improved patient safety surveillance system.

Gates Foundation Awards $210M to UW's Population Health Initiative

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is awarding $210 million to Seattle-based University of Washington’s Population Health Initiative, with the funds going toward the construction of a new building to serve as the initiative’s hub.

AHA Offers Interoperability Standards Recommendations to ONC

The American Hospital Association (AHA) has offered feedback to the ONC on the agency’s draft Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA) that it issued in August.

Survey: Healthcare Orgs Not Taking Mobile Security Seriously Enough

More than half (56 percent) of healthcare professionals believe their organization could be doing more to educate employees on HIPAA compliance and the rules around sharing protected health information.

Mount Sinai’s Research Arm Using Data Analytics to Address Health Inequities

The Arnhold Institute for Global Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is partnering with DigitalGlobe to create the Health Equity Atlas Initiative (ATLAS), a platform that standardizes and maps population data in order to generate insights that address health inequities.