While the world has dealt with the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19, the healthcare community has had to deal with many unique challenges. Coming up with and implementing procedures to protect both patients and staff from possible exposure to the virus is a tricky process, especially when in some locations, hospitals have also been dealing with patient surges. Keeping up with routine scheduled visits and elective procedures then becomes even more difficult. As a result, telemedicine has become commonly used for patient care visits and follow up appointments.
Lessons learned from Houston’s ETHAN program can help your agency design, launch and manage a telemedicine program for your community.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Special thanks to our guest blogger this week, Rachel Zoch, EMS1 BrandFocus Staff
Over the past decade, the Houston Fire Department has been working on a way to respond to every call and provide appropriate patient care without tying up resources to transport non-emergency patients. These efforts have evolved from a helpline staffed by nurses to the Emergency Telehealth and Navigation, or ETHAN, program.
“ETHAN is essentially a third attempt by the city of Houston, and specifically Houston Fire, to deal with a growing problem,” said Dr. Michael Gonzalez, HFD associate medical director and director of the ETHAN project, “and that’s the increasing use of 911 for a variety of reasons that includes a growing number of patients who probably don’t have a true medical emergency.”