ACEP has 31 sections of Membership, each with a unique special interest or focus of emergency medicine. The newest section, Telemedicine, was chartered by the ACEP Board of Directors in late 2011.
Explore This IssueACEP News: Vol 31 – No 01 – January 2012
Because of cost-cutting measures, several specialties are no longer providing on-call services, and in some hospitals certain specialty services are simply unavailable. However, for some institutions this service gap is being met by novel telemedicine services – most notable in the specialties of neurology, radiology, emergency medicine, and cardiology.
For example, many rural emergency departments are staffed with PAs or NPs who are supported by emergency physicians via videoconferencing software for complex cases and supervision. In addition, mobile applications are quickly becoming effective and innovative solutions, providing EKG over-reads via smart phones for cardiologists and emergency physicians.
While telemedicine has been around for some time, it is important to define the term. Simply stated, telemedicine is providing medical services to a patient from a distance. How and with what is limited only by the imagination.
Why an ACEP section of telemedicine? There are few, if any, perfect hospital systems. Telemedicine can bridge gaps, speed patient evaluations, or provide specialty resources previously unavailable. Each entity must look at its own facility and identify needs, or look at smaller community facilities and help them meet a specific need. From there, one must figure out the best telemedicine delivery system for that unique model. When carefully thought out and implemented, everyone benefits, from patients to ancillary services, local hospital, referral hospital, and of course, physicians and the community.
The mission of the ACEP Section of Telemedicine is to provide an academic telemedicine resource center that will give ACEP members the tools necessary to integrate the best application of telemedicine into their current system. The section will support the health care reform tenets of access, quality, and cost.
Telemedicine is certainly not a one-size-fits-all model. Applications that work in one specialty may not work in another, and methods that work in one hospital may not extrapolate to a different site. Even individual practitioners may need different resources for different cases. There is currently no reference available that is specifically geared toward telemedicine applications in emergency medicine. The ACEP Section of Telemedicine is intended to become that central resource.
Who should join? We would argue that everyone should join because of the extremely wide application possibilities. This is NOT an exclusive club for folks already using telemedicine. This section exists to help support those who are thinking about getting off the starting block and for seasoned veterans to compare notes and flesh out ideas and conjure up new ones.