The Doctor Can See You Now: A Key Stakeholder Study Into The Acceptability Of Ambulance Based Telemedicine.

Using telecommunications technology it would be possible to link a patient and paramedic to a Doctor in the Emergency Department (ED) at the point of first patient contact. A questionnaire-based study on telemedicine in the pre-hospital environment involving patients, paramedics, doctors and nurses in the ED, was performed to assess if they would want and accept telemedicine in pre-hospital emergency care. When asked 98.5% (55) of patients, 89% (11) of doctors, 76% (14) of nurses and 91% (42) of ambulance personnel saw the potential of an audio-visual link from the pre-hospital environment to the ED. The potential benefits were felt to be in diagnosis of time-dependent illnesses, time management, increased hospital preparedness for incoming patients and increased triage efficiency. Stakeholder enthusiasm for pre-hospital telemedicine must be met with the technological requirements to provide such a service. As noted by one patient a pre-hospital audio-visual link to the ED could be “potentially a life saving service”.