Study: Telemedicine reduces ER patient wait times by 15 minutes for rural hospitals

The wait time a to see a healthcare provider in the emergency department at rural hospitals with telemedicine services is six minutes shorter than the wait times at those that do not offer telemedicine, according to a new study from University of Iowa researchers.

The team of researchers — led by Nicolas Mohr, MD — compared ED visits at 14 hospitals in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota that deploy telemedicine services from a single ED telemedicine provider. The results were published online Jan. 2 in the journal Telemedicine and e-Health.

Of 127,928 qualifying ED visits, 2,857 consulted telemedicine. The study found telemedicine services can reduce door-to-provider time by six minutes in EDs, whether the patient is physically assessed by a provider or receives care remotely. The first provider seeing the patient was a telemedicine provider in 41.7 percent of the encounters, delivering care 14.7 minutes earlier than the local providers.

When patients were transferred, ED length-of-stay at the first hospital was shorter for those that had first consulted with a telemedicine provider, the researchers also noted.

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