Overcoming Barriers to Emergency Care During a Telehealth Appointment

Overcoming Barriers to Emergency Care During a Telehealth Appointment

Nearly 600,000 calls are made to 911 each day in the U.S.[1] The more than 9,000 call centers aren’t connected and can’t handle or transfer calls to other 911 districts. The 911 infrastructure was developed more than 40 years ago and is an antiquated system with many limitations. Another being the system’s inability to locate an individual calling from a cellphone.

The pandemic caused a quick pivot to telehealth, where patients in any location can connect with a provider from any location. What happens during a telehealth visit if the provider recognizes that the patient needs urgent help?

Next generation 911 for telemedicine

Technology now exists that can mitigate these challenges. Through Telemedicine911, a web-based platform, incorporating Air®GeoLocate, technology enables providers to seamlessly hand the patient off to the appropriate EMS provider no matter where the patient is located.

Telemedicine911 is a plug-and-play solution designed for emergencies that happen during telehealth visits. Providers can connect to the cloud-based platform through any web-enabled device from any location. Because the system is a single sign-on solution, it seamlessly integrates with a provider’s systems—always connected and ready at a moment’s notice.

How it Works

When a provider recognizes that a patient needs emergency care during a telehealth appointment, he or she can connect to the emergency platform, enter the patient’s information along with additional notes. If the patient’s address is known, it can be directly entered into the system. If the patient’s location is not known, the Air®GeoLocate feature is able to find the patient and enter it into the system.

Once all patient information is entered, the call is automatically connected to the appropriate 911 dispatcher. Because the web-based platform is integrated into a PSAP’s existing 911 software, the dispatcher will see the patient’s information on their screen. This enables the dispatcher to quickly deploy the right EMS team to the right location.

Success Story

During a telehealth appointment with her psychiatrist, a patient said she was going to kill herself. The psychiatrist told the patient she needed to hang up and immediately call 911. The patient hung up but did not call 911. A few days later the patient called her psychologist saying she was going to kill herself. Again, the patient was told to hang up and call 911. The patient hung up and, once again, did not make the call.

The following week, the patient swallowed an entire bottle of hydroxyzine pills. A few minutes later she called her primary care telehealth provider and said that she had “done something stupid.” While the patient lived in her provider’s county, she was in a different location on that particular day, many hours south of her home. The patient’s primary care provider had implemented an emergency technology solution for telehealth and was able to activate 911 to where the patient was located. The patient had become altered to the point she was unable open the front door, which the provider conveyed to the police and EMS team. Instead of waiting for the patient to answer the door, they found an alternate way to enter the building. They were able to get to the patient in time and get her to a facility where she got the emergency care she needed.

[1] https://www.waldenu.edu/online-masters-programs/ms-in-criminal-justice/resource/ten-things-you-might-not-know-about-the-united-states-911-emergency-telephone-number

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