Nebraska DHHS Completes Implementation of EMS Telemedicine Services

Nebraska DHHS Completes Implementation of EMS Telemedicine Services
June 22nd, 2024 | Department of Health and Human Services

More than 65 ambulances in more than two dozen rural EMS departments across the state are now using Avel eCare’s innovative telemedicine platform for support during transports.

Lincoln, NE – The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is excited to announce it has successfully completed the implementation of Avel eCare’s EMS telemedicine services. Ambulances in more than two dozen rural communities across the state are now equipped with Avel eCare’s telemedicine technology – virtually connecting EMTs and paramedics with Avel eCare’s experienced emergency physicians, paramedics, and nurses for support during transports.

“Putting telemedicine in ambulances is invaluable in rural areas in Nebraska as it provides critical support during complex situations, long transports, or when there is only one provider in the back with a critical patient. We are already hearing reports about the multiple benefits and are experiencing strong utilization, which we expect will continue to grow even more now that the program is fully up and running,” said Tim Wilson, State EMS Director at the Nebraska DHHS.

Ravenna Emergency Medical Services was the first community to go live back in December. Since then, a cross-section of 65 ambulances, including those that provide Basic Life Support, Advanced Life Support, 911, and transfer services, in at least 26 communities have been outfitted with a cabin-mounted telehealth tablet equipped with the appropriate technology to support strong connectivity in the field. Utilization has been substantial, with the number of calls increasing by an average of 151% month after month over the past six months. The most frequent calls to date have been for assistance with trauma, altered mental status, and cardiac/chest pain.

“Within a week of going live, we had a critical patient that we used telehealth on. The result was even better than I anticipated it would be. Having another set of eyes and a second opinion on the outside looking in was a tremendous comfort. Everything went as well as could be expected on the call, and having the documentation at the end was amazing. I know our department is grateful to have these new team members, as will anyone else who gets to use the Avel service,” said Jeffrey Mathias, MREMT-P, Captain of the Atkinson Ambulance Service and Fire & Rescue.

In addition to offering peer-to-peer consults and pre-hospital documentation support, participating agencies have access to Avel eCare’s 24/7 interpretation services, remote ECG readings, and diagnostic test reviews.

“Our goal is to support EMS personnel by offering a virtual helping hand whenever needed, ensuring that no EMT or paramedic ever feels alone. Putting telemedicine in ambulances also helps ensure the best possible patient outcomes by supporting field crews during the critical first 60 minutes – known as the Golden Hour in medicine,” said Rebecca Vande Kieft, VP and General Manager of Emergency Services at Avel eCare.

Nebraska’s EMS telemedicine initiative is funded by a $1.3 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control designed to support the state Emergency Health Systems with recruitment and retention while reducing health disparities and improving access to care for underserved populations.

Communities currently participating in the program include:

Alma Volunteer Fire Department, Ansley Volunteer Fire and Rescue, Atkinson Ambulance Service, Aurora Fire Department, Brown County Ambulance Association, Cambridge Rescue Service, Cherry County Hospital Ambulance, Creighton Ambulance, Crofton Rescue, Humboldt Rescue, Friend Rescue Squad, Imperial Emergency Medical Service, McCook City & Volunteer Fire Department, Morrill County Community Hospital, Nebraska City Fire & Rescue Department, Norfolk Fire Division, North Platte Fire Department, Ogallala Volunteer Fire Department, Pawnee County Ambulance, Providence Medical Center, Randolph Rescue Unit, Ravenna Emergency Unit, Springfield Rural Fire Protection District, Syracuse Rescue Service, Thedford Volunteer Rescue Squad, and West Point Rescue.

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