Is Your ED a Hub? 

August 29, 2012 by InTouch Health

Telemedicine can help unclog crowded Emergency Departments.

There are basically two ways to run an Emergency Department. Most are designed like the Department of Motor Vehicles where you sign in and wait for service. The emerging way is to use the Grand Central Station model, where the ED is the service hub. People don’t hang out at Grand Central; they get quickly routed to the places they need to go.

Today’s most innovative EDs are using this hub approach to better serve patients – and remote presence plays a vital role in that process. For too long, Emergency Departments have seen themselves as the hospital’s front door, not the center of the entire enterprise. But a hub-style ED offers a host of benefits: more efficient workflow, better resource utilization, greater throughput, and higher quality care.

In a hub-style ED, the idea is to quickly triage and route each patient to the most appropriate care setting. How does telemedicine help? For starters, it provides better service for the ED’s most frequent users: behavioral health and pain management patients, plus those who rely on the ED for routine primary care. Because those patients aren’t in critical condition, they often sit for hours waiting to be seen. But with remote presence, they can get high-quality care without clogging up the ED. A remote physician can quickly make an assessment through devices like the RP-7i robot. That means that ED physicians have more time for patients with life-threatening emergencies.

It’s obvious that the most expensive resource in today’s ED is the provider. Highly trained ED physicians and nurses have more pressing things to do than treat sinus infections or try to determine whether a patient is depressed (especially when a behavioral health professional can be reached quickly with remote presence).

So the choice is clear: your ED can either be a plodding DMV or a fast-paced hub capable of delivering higher throughput and better care while improving the hospital’s bottom line