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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Characterizing New England Emergency Departments by Telemedicine Use


Introduction: Telemedicine connects emergency departments (ED) with resources necessaryfor patient care; its use has not been characterized nationally, or even regionally. Our primaryobjective was to describe the prevalence of telemedicine use in New England EDs and theclinical applications of use. Secondarily, we aimed to determine if telemedicine use wasassociated with consultant availability and to identify ED characteristics associated withtelemedicine use.

Methods: We analyzed data from the National Emergency Department Inventory-New Englandsurvey, which assessed basic ED characteristics in 2014. The survey queried directors of everyED (n=195) in the six New England states (excluding federal hospitals and college infirmaries).Descriptive statistics characterized ED telemedicine use; multivariable logistic regressionidentified independent predictors of use.

Results: Of the 169 responding EDs (87% response rate), 82 (49%) reported usingtelemedicine. Telemedicine EDs were more likely to be rural (18% of users vs. 7% of nonusers,p=0.03); less likely to be academic (1% of users vs. 11% of non-users, p=0.01); andless likely to have 24/7 access to neurology (p<0.001), neurosurgery (p<0.001), orthopedics(p=0.01), plastic surgery (p=0.01), psychiatry (p<0.001), and hand surgery (p<0.001)consultants. Neuro/stroke (68%), pediatrics (11%), psychiatry (11%), and trauma (10%) were themost commonly reported applications. On multivariable analysis, telemedicine was more likely inrural EDs (odds ratio [OR] 4.39, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1. 30-14.86), and less likely in EDswith 24/7 neurologist availability (OR 0.21, 95% CI [0.09-0.49] ), and annual volume <20,000 (OR0.24, 95% CI [0.08-0.68]).

Conclusion: Telemedicine is commonly used in New England EDs. In 2014, use was morecommon among rural EDs and EDs with limited neurology consultant availability. In contrast,telemedicine use was less common among very low-volume EDs.

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