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Community Health Program Should Eliminate Unnecessary ER Trips

Caldwell County Emergency Management Services in North Carolina just launched a two-person community health team propelled by new software that allows the tracking of health trends and includes a telehealth application.

by Jim McKay / July 2, 2020

Caldwell County Emergency Management Services in North Carolina has deployed a community health program that will enable paramedics to better keep track of trends with patients, enabling better care for the patient and easier access to data for doctors.


With the program, a two-person team can facilitate non-emergency response and treatment that includes telehealth, and reduce the number of 911 calls and ambulance rides to the emergency room. The team can track data, including medication, historical care, demographics, vitals, food and shelter requirements and trends in health to proactively serve the patient.

The program also allows for coronavirus screenings capabilities via telehealth, cutting the risk of transmission by providing the ability to identify symptomatic patients without having to see them in person.

The telehealth feature lets patients connect to a primary care physician or emergency room doctor via tablet application, and paramedics and doctors can also follow up with patients who are self-quarantined.

“We have a couple of doctors using that now,” said Daniel Frey, co-founder of FieldMed. “If the patient meets the criteria from the CDC, they can say yes, you need to be transported, but it lets that doctor make that decision. Instead of having to do an in-person checkup, you can send that person a link. It saves money, keeping those [ambulances] available for more true emergency issues like cardiac situations and things like that.”

“They’ve wanted to do this for numerous years, and this past year they were able to finally pitch it,” said Sgt. Jason Powell, who along with Sgt. Blake Cochran constitute the community health team. “We came off the 911 operations side with numerous years of experience, including tactical and special ops, and were chosen by our medical director.”

The program is run by software from FieldMed and allows the team to access a patient’s records easily and in real time as opposed to the 911 software, which was cumbersome to use in the field and unable to provide trends in care.

“We needed ongoing records,” Powell said. “The 911 software is geared toward each individual encounter and doesn’t track for an ongoing timeframe. You could have 16 Jason Powells in the system tied to one Social Security number. That’s not good for documentation purposes.”

“During the beta phase, we had been identifying patients and we had a test facility, so we were able to go through and test all aspects of the software prior to actually deploying it to a live patient, or client as we call them,” Powell said.

“We’re in our infancy,” Powell said of the program that went live in late June. “We came off of 911 operations April 1, and since then we’ve been doing the administrative side, literally building the program from the ground up.”

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