AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog


Will Telemedicine Reduce the Wait at Hospital Emergency Rooms?

Waiting times at hospital emergency rooms has long been a problem.  Originally established to treat patients with injuries and illnesses in cases of extreme emergency treatment needs, todays hospital emergency facilities are packed with patients seeking treatment for every ailment from the common flu, minor cuts, sprains, strains, to severe injuries and illnesses.  As a result anyone who has ever had the misfortune to need to visit a hospital emergency room is well experienced in the art of waiting for treatment, in some cases, many long hours.

For years hospitals have attempted to stem the unrelenting flow of patients by diverting them to physician’s offices and off-site medical clinics and triage centers, still others post estimated waiting times on billboards and electronic signage located outside the hospital entrances.  The waiting goes on unabated.

To address this issue, a pilot study has been launched at UC San Diego Health System’s Emergency Department (ED) to use telemedicine as a way to help address crowding and decrease patient wait times.  The study is the first of its kind in California to use cameras to bring on-call doctors who are outside of the hospital to the patient in need.  The study, called Emergency Department Telemedicine Initiative to Rapidly Accommodate in Times of Emergency (EDTITRATE), brings telemedicine doctors to patients when the ED becomes busy.  An offsite doctor is paged, who then remotely links to a telemedicine station to see patients.  With the aide of an ED nurse, these patients are seen based on arrival time and level of medical need.

“This telemedicine study will determine if we can decrease wait times while reducing the number of patients who leave the ED without being seen by a physician,” said David Guss, MD, principal investigator and chair of the department of emergency medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.  “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.”

“ED overcrowding increases patient risk and decreases patient satisfaction with emergency services,” said Vaishal Tolia, MD, MPH, FACEP, emergency medicine physician at UC San Diego Health System.  “Implementing telemedicine in the emergency department setting may improve the overall experience for both patients and medical staff.”


2 Comments so far
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would love to know what you learned. EMTALA issues? Do docs like it? We’d like to initiate a trial in our ED like this – what are your recommendations?

Comment by Pankaj

We encourage you to contact us (info@acutecaretelemed.com) to discuss the treatment of acute neurologic illness via telemedicine in the emergency room. We look forward to helping you find ways in which ACT can assist you in your goals.

Although our AcuteCare Telemedicine did not participate in the ED-TITRATE study, we found it to be a potentially valuable use of telemedicine proposed by the University of California-San Diego Department of Emergency Medicine. Further information regarding this study may be obtained by contacting Dr. Vaishal Tolia at 619-543-6400.

Comment by acutecaretelemed




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