Baton Rouge Mayor-President Melvin L. "Kip" Holden last week introduced a telemedicine pilot program that provides a wireless video and data link between EMS and local hospitals. The program was launched today at the Emergency Room at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center (OLOL), the first local hospital to go online with the new services.
Today, Baton Rouge becomes only the second city in the nation to offer this state-of-the-art emergency medical service through our local EMS," Holden said. "With this technology, Emergency Room physicians can begin working with our paramedics to evaluate patients' needs even before they reach the hospital. Simply put, we can reduce the time until treatment begins and save lives."
"BR Med-Connect" provides a video and data computer system that utilizes high-quality cameras, advanced cardiac monitors and other diagnostic devices transmitted over the city's high-speed wireless mesh network.
"BR Med-Connect" is a pilot program between EMS and Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center to develop the East Baton Rouge Parish telemedicine program. Our Lady of The Lake Hospital is the pilot hospital because of an existing in-house telemedicine program within its intensive care unit. All East Baton Rouge Parish hospitals will be linked to the program.
Holden's interest in a telemedicine program for Baton Rouge came about when he was one of six U.S. Mayors selected to participate in an international Conference of Mayors held in Jerusalem in 2007 and the group toured the respected Hadassah Hospital. "When we saw how doctors were evaluating patients while they were being transported to the hospital and delivering treatment more quickly, I came back to Baton Rouge and met with our EMS and Information Services Department to see how we could deploy a similar system using our existing public safety wireless network," Holden said.
When EMS is transporting a patient to the Emergency Room, physicians at the hospital will view all video and data transmitted and can work with paramedics in evaluating patients to help determine definitive care while the ambulances are still out in the field. East Baton Rouge Parish Paramedics operate on some of the most advanced protocols in the industry and can perform many advanced life-saving procedures without contacting a physician but this technology will help extend the physician/paramedic relationship.
The telemedicine program will allow EMS to work closer with the emergency room physicians, especially in cases where early evaluation by both members of the team will benefit the patient.
The technology is installed in one ambulance that will be staffed by paramedics who are specially trained to use the system. During the pilot program phase, EMS will develop proper procedures for the use of the "BR Med-Connect" system. Studies will be conducted on the success of the programs and all of the data will be shared with all of the hospitals in the area.
The system is not intended to be used on every patient but those cases where early intervention would help increase the patient's survivability or reduce their deficit once treatment is received. The first phase of the pilot program will focus on certain cardiac patients that can benefit from being evaluated early by a physician and fast tracked directly to the heart cath-lab. It has been proven that these patients have a better recovery if they have door-to-balloon times of less than two hours.