Hospital to study whether telemedicine works for kids in the ER

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

A California pediatrician has been given a federal grant of almost $1.2 million to study how telemedicine is saving money and children's lives in emergency departments.

James Marcin, MD, interim chief of pediatric critical care medicine at UC Davis Children's Hospital in Sacramento, was awarded a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to track how telemedicine consults work when compared to telephone consults. He'll be monitoring the two methods based on four factors:

  1. Quality of care provided
  2. Frequency/appropriateness of admission and transfers from rural hospitals
  3. Frequency of physician-related medication errors
  4. Cost of care

The project's goal is to compare clinical outcomes and cost effectiveness of the two methods of treating children in the ER. Participating ERs will use either of the two, then report their results after six months.

“While telemedicine has been increasingly used as a means of providing emergency and critical care consultations to seriously ill and injured children in emergency departments, little is known about the impact that these consultations have on clinical and financial outcomes,” Marcin, who will be the study's lead investigator, said in a press release.

This isn't Marcin's first venture into telemedicine. In 2011, he was part of an intriguing project, funded by a $350,000 grant, that brought audiology testing to pediatric patients in northern California. Through the project, patients from several remote counties in the state were tested at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, then hooked up in real-time with UC Davis Health System pediatricians.

In this latest project, Marcin will be joined by UC Davis co-investigators Thomas Nesbitt, associate vice chancellor for strategic technologies and alliances; Nate Kuppermann, professor and chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine; Byung-Kwang Yoo, associate professor of the Department of Public Health Sciences; and Daniel Tancredi, associate professor (in residence) of the Department of Pediatrics.