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Emergency Care Connect: Extending Pediatric Emergency Care Expertise to General Emergency Departments Through Telemedicine

Foster, C. C.; Macy, M. L.; Simon, N. J.; Stephen, R.; Lehnig, K.; Bohling, K.; Schinasi, D. A.

Acad Pediatr. 2020 Mar 1; 20(5):577-584

Abstract

Increasingly, children with common and lower-acuity conditions are being transferred from general emergency departments (EDs) to pediatric centers for subspecialty care. While transferring children with high-risk conditions has benefit, transferring children with common conditions may expose them to redundant care and added costs. Emergency Care Connect (ECC) is a novel telemedicine program that uses videoconferencing to connect general ED and urgent care providers to pediatric emergency medicine physicians with the goal of keeping children in their communities for definitive care, when safe and feasible. ECC objectives are to: 1) facilitate transfer decision-making for children receiving care in general ED and urgent care sites and 2) increase access to pediatric providers for real-time management, regardless of disposition. In its first 20 months, ECC partnered with 4 general EDs and 1 urgent care location, which together made 1327 contacts with our pediatric center, of which 202 (15%) became ECC consultations for 200 unique patients. Of those consultations, 71% patients remained locally for treatment and 25% experienced a care plan change. Overall, ECC was rated highly by surveyed families and providers. Barriers to implementation, such as lack of familiarity with telemedicine and fears of changes in workflow, were overcome with strong institutional support and frequent, sustained stakeholder engagement. With greater adoption of this model, ECC and programs like it have the potential to allow more children to be treated in their communities, minimize preventable transfers, and reserve beds in children's hospitals for those with potentially higher risk and more medically complex conditions.

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