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Houston telemedicine system cuts trips to the ER

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It’s long been clear that most 911 calls don’t require a trip to the hospital!

Houston’s telemedicine system may be a model for paramedics around America for cutting the number of those very expansive trips. reports:

“In 2014, the city launched a telemedicine service that has reduced 80 percent of the number of unnecessary emergency visits. The program is called ETHAN, which stands for Emergency TeleHealth and Navigation. It works like this: When paramedics arrive at the scene of an emergency and realize a patient doesn’t need to be rushed to a hospital, they use a tablet to video chat with a specialist. For instance, a patient can chat with a nurse to get a prescription refilled or get an appointment scheduled on the spot with their primary care doctor for joint pain.”

The program is said to have ┬áprevented 6,000 unnecessary ER transports. The average teleconference visit is only about seven minutes, and the cost of treating a patient virtually is around $220 — way less than the $2,200 to transport someone to the ER, Governing reported.

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