Monday, July 25, 2016

Houston Fire Dept screens for ambulance need

Under a program dubbed Ethan (Emergency TeleHealth and Navigation project), the Houston Fire Dept uses Panasonic Toughpad tablets on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network to screen patients at home.

Where appropriate the first responders set up a teleconference between the sick person and a physician using the tablets. The physician then monitors the patient's vital signs remotely and talks to the person.

Based on this, the situation can go one of several ways:

--Referral to the ER in the ambulance

--The patient is asked to go to a clinic appointment and offered a free taxi. If the person refuses, the taxi is provided to go to the ER.

--Or home care instructions may be offered. If this is refused, again a taxi to the ER will be provided.

Eighty percent of expensive ambulance trips are avoided.

I have often taken a taxi to the ER--but on one occasion did take an ambulance. It took me a year to pay the ambulance fee.

I think having the EMTs there, and a talk with a physician, would have been helpful and the ER could have been avoided.

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