Objectives & Background The LiveCity Project funded by the European Commission included the development of hardware and software and the provision of a telecommunication infrastructure with high-speed internet to allow for an encrypted audio-visual video communication from the site of an emergency to the Emergency Department. Having previously performed a questionnaire based study on telemedicine amongst paramedics we extended our research to examine if Doctors, nurses and patients in the Emergency Department felt it would be beneficial and would want and accept telemedicine in pre-hospital emergency care.
Methods Two separate seventeen item questionnaires were developed by the research team in consultation with the key stakeholders for patients and staff. Two members of the research team approached doctors, nurses and patients in the Emergency Department to consent them to enrolment in the study. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS software. The comments and statements from the qualitative data were analysed using simple thematic analysis.
Results 100% (56) of patients said they would like the technology used if they were in an ambulance and possibly suffering a stroke or a major injury, and 96.3% (54) said they would like it used if they were possibly suffering a heart attack. 83.3% (n=10) of doctors and 89% (n=16) of nurses were in favour of using pre-hospital video platform technology in stroke, Myocardial infarction and major trauma. The potential benefits were felt to be in diagnosis of time-dependent illnesses, time management in the ED, increased hospital preparedness for incoming patients and increased triage efficiency. Nurses and Doctors expressed concern that there may be difficulty operating the technology in situations such as adverse weather conditions, low light levels and in remote areas without network coverage. Concerns regarding potential breaches in patient confidentiality were noted.
Conclusion 99% of patients, 92% of Doctors and 94% of nurses saw the potential of an audio-visual link from the pre-hospital environment to the Emergency Department. Stakeholder enthusiasm for pre-hospital telemedicine must be met with the technological requirements to provide such a service. As noted by one patient a pre-hospital audio-visual link to the Emergency Department could be a “potentially a life saving service”.
- emergency departments
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