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Emergency Room Telemedicine Consults Help Pediatric Patients

Hospitals are implementing emergency room telemedicine consults to improve care access to pediatric patients.

Hospital aims to use emergency telemedicine for pediatric care

Source: Thinkstock

By Thomas Beaton

- The Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) in Somerset, NJ is the latest hospital to offer emergency room telemedicine consults to improve access to care for high-acuity patients.

The hospital can now connect patients  at its Somerset campus with pediatric emergency medicine at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital (BMSCH).

RWJUH will offer services that leverage real-time video conferencing via a remote telepresence device. This allows physicians to evaluate patients from a remote location without needing extra travel for emergency care.

“By providing telemedicine for our emergency pediatric patients, we’re able to increase access to specialized pediatric care across the region,” said Richard Brodsky, MD, Director of Pediatric Telemedicine at The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

“Parents can rest assure that their children always have access to the most specialized care, without the added stress of transfers and travel. We expect telemedicine to help expedite the diagnosis process, helping children receive the care they need when they need it,” he said.

Along with real-time video, a remote doctor can immediately access a patient’s records and medical history to facilitate examination through a two-way camera system. A present physician is able to administer specialized videography that integrates with a stethoscope and ophthalmoscope. Through the connected stethoscope, the remote physician can hear the patient's heart/lung sounds and see a close up of a patient’s vitals at the same time as the onsite physician.

This is the latest in the continual growth of hospitals utilizing telemedicine services within emergency care. Providers may need to use mobile care delivery platforms such as video conferencing to respond immediately to emergency situations.

Emergency departments also face pressure to keep their doors open 24/7, regardless of patient volume. To address these challenges, hospitals have been increasing their telemedicine capabilities.

Telemedicine came to the rescue of a small hospital on Prince Edward Island, which had shut down its ED overnight to reduce strain on the organization.  

In another example, an army hospital in Kentucky pursued telemedicine in order to reduce ER wait times and redirect non-urgent issues to a primary care provider instead of the ED.

Telemedicine is seen by many hospitals as a means of reducing stress on ED staff, hospital resources, and the delivery of specialized care whether it’s telepsychiatry, pediatric care, chronic care, or any other specific care.

“If you or your family member is sick, having access to a doctor right away is a priority,” said Master Sgt. Jason Alexander, clinical operations NCO for the Army’s Regional Health Command-Atlantic (Provisional). “Not only will the care provided be focused to their need but it will also help reduce their wait time and allow ED professionals to take care of more urgent cases."

Leaders at RWJUH aim to use telemedicine in similar ways to improve access to pediatric care for their patients.

Currently, the RJWUH Telemedicine Program provides RWJUH Somerset pediatric patients access to BMSCH services including board-certified pediatric doctors who specialize in trauma and emergency medicine.

If a pediatric patient who comes to RWJUH Somerset needs a second opinion for an emergency condition, telemedicine can connect them with a doctor to reach a diagnosis before the child would arrive in New Brunswick. Should a patient need a medical procedure following the consultation such as surgery, the child may be transferred to BMSCH for an in-person evaluation.

RWJUH has experienced previous success with pediatric telemedicine, and hopes that increased mobility and care delivery will improve upon an already well-received telemedicine program.

“We’re bolstering our telemedicine capabilities adding a dedicated remote telepresence device for our pediatric emergency patients,” said Marc Milano, Medical Director of RWJUH Somerset’s Emergency Department.

“We’ve seen increased patient outcomes since introducing our Teleneurology program for stroke patients in 2014. By expanding our capabilities for pediatric emergency telemedicine our goal is to provide better care more quickly especially in emergency situations where time can be a critical factor for a patient’s survival and recovery.”

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