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Prehosp Emerg Care. 2002 Oct-Dec;6(4):445-8.

Predicted utilization of emergency medical services telemedicine in decreasing ambulance transports.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Carilion Roanoke Memorial and Community Hospitals, Virginia, USA.



To determine predicted utilization, decrease in ambulance transports, and target population for emergency medical services (EMS) if telemedicine capabilities were available to the medic units in the field.


A retrospective chart review of 345 consecutive ambulance transports to four hospitals (Level I urban trauma center, urban tertiary care center, children's hospital and suburban community hospital) was performed by a panel of three board-certified emergency medicine physicians experienced and credentialed in emergency telemedicine. They independently reviewed the emergency department (ED) and EMS records and were asked to determine whether patients required ambulance transport for evaluation or whether disposition could be made following paramedic and emergency physician assessment via telemedicine. A five-point Likert scale was used to grade feasibility of telemedicine disposition (definitely yes, probably yes, maybe, probably no, definitely no). Other variables analyzed included age, sex, race, chief complaint, phone, private medical doctor, and call location by patient zip code, call site, and receiving hospital.


In 14.7% of cases (6% definitely yes and 8.7% probably yes), disposition could be made without transport using telemedicine. The age range for eliminating transport was 2 weeks through 92 years, with mean age of 26.6 years. Under the age of 50 years, 46 out of 238 patients (19.3%) could have possibly been managed by telemedicine.


Use of EMS telemedicine could result in an approximately 15% decrease in ambulance transports when it alone is added to the prehospital care provider's armamentarium. Emphasis for implementation should be placed on younger patients and an identified subset of chief complaints conducive to management using telemedicine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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