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ED Tries Telemedicine in Bid to Cut Wait Times

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, June 20, 2013

What's even better for the patient is that unlike a typical face-to-face visit with an ED physician, the patient can actually see what the remote physician sees inside the patient's ear or throat. "And that draws the patient into their care in a way they can't experience in any other environment," Guss says. "That wasn't something I anticipated when I started this."

"Theoretically, I could be on vacation on a cruise ship and do telemedicine, although that's not really the objective. The notion for this is that the doctor is not constrained to be [physically] in the ED."

Guss explains how this arrangement can streamline emergency processes and improve patient experiences.

Normally, emergency department throughput planners have a general sense of their peak times, and arrange for emergency room physicians to report to work accordingly.

"But in reality, on any given day, anything can happen."

Typically, to deal with unexpected surges or an influx of especially tough patients, there are backup physicians on call.

"If you feel it's busy enough to justify another provider, you can call them in. But you need to appreciate the influences that go into that. Someone has to make the call, and there are some indirect issues. Maybe, you think, it will get better in another hour. But often it's a lot worse (with more patients backing up in the ED) and you've lost precious time."

"Some people are just reluctant to pull the trigger, for whatever reason," he says.

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