Introduction The use of telemedicine by deployed healthcare providers to improve patient care has been increasing in recent foreign conflicts and humanitarian missions. These efforts have mostly been limited to email consultation with long response lag times. The United States Military has developed several modalities of telemedicine for use in austere environments, ranging from video conferencing, email, and store-and-forward technology. As of now, these efforts have required large pieces of equipment and many technical support personnel and have a delayed response time. Our study aimed to test the overall feasibility of use, the effects on time to intervention, and user confidence in a highly portable, real-time video set-up to aid in teleconsultations at the early stages of care for a simulated traumatic injury. Materials and methods Subjects or operators taking direct care of the simulated patient were junior emergency medicine (EM) residents or military trained medics. Video teleconsultation was completed by either senior EM residents in their final year of training or board-certified EM physicians. The subjects taking direct care of the simulated patient were blinded to whether their video device was actively sending images or not. All participants communicated verbally using hand-held radios. The total number of interventions and time to event analysis was completed and survey data were collected, assessing confidence levels on procedures performed and patient care. Results We demonstrated the accessibility, ease of use, and overall practicality of this telemedicine platform. A trend was found towards decreased time to evacuation for patients with a live video feed. Alternatively, the data showed no significant difference in the addition of video as opposed to solely radio in terms of the number of interventions, time to interventions, or operator or teleconsultant confidence in the care delivered or procedures performed. Conclusions This study demonstrated the overall feasibility and ease of use of a highly portable telemedicine platform with live video capabilities. A trend was found toward earlier evacuation decisions when using the live video. Follow-up studies may consider examining more challenging simulations or prolonged field care utilization of this technology.
Weymouth, W., Thaut, L., & Olson, N. (2018). Point of View Telemedicine at Point of Care. Cureus. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.3662