Streamlining emergency care with virtual video telemedicine

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ORLANDO — After implementing a virtual video telemedicine model in Stanford Healthcare’s emergency department, patients have provided more positive feedback regarding their experience than the standard emergency room department, said speakers at the 2024 HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition preconference Virtual Care Forum on Monday.

“Our journey began with COVID,” said Patrice Callagy, executive director of emergency services at Stanford Healthcare. “Even though our emergency department had the ability to telehealth into our system, the nurse had to be in the room to operate that.”  

Callagy and her colleague Sam Shen, clinical professor and vice chair of clinical operations and quality in the department of emergency medicine, challenged their colleagues to develop a system where providers could remotely communicate with a patient, and in a week’s time a new technology was implemented.

“Telemedicine has been around for a long time as many of you are aware, bu COVID kind of provided a catalyst in allowing us to think about how we could leverage the technology beyond just COVID,” Shen said.

Hence, the Level 1 trauma center created a virtual fast track zone in the emergency department lobby with carts equipped with digital tools and one physician could virtually see numerous patients in the emergency department area.

The team also created an emergency department video visit trackboard in the EHR, which allowed physicians to see which patients were in the queue and perform a telehealth visit with the patient virtually.

“You can advance telemedicine in any avenue, but especially within emergency departments,” Callagy said.

Before virtual visits, physicians would see one patient at a time with longer wait periods between patient exams. After implementing a virtual fast track program, physicians can virtually cover multiple low acuity patients in the pediatric ED, adult ED and walk-in clinics.

The top patient issues seen via the virtual platform are sore throat, chest pain, cough, abdominal pain, back pain, rash, knee pain, ear pain, back pain and foot pain.

Patient’s have provided positive feedback for emergency department virtual care, with higher rates of satisfaction even compared to the health system’s regular emergency department.

The goal was to get the patient to the doctor faster, which has been achieved through the virtual model, Callagy said.



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