"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

What is a Virtual Emergency Department? And when must you 'visit'?

For many Australians the emergency department (ED) is the physical and symbolic front door to accessing urgent healthcare services.

But healthcare services are evolving rapidly to satisfy the changing needs of the population. In recent years, we have now seen increased use of telephone, video, and online health services, including national ones Health Direct Helpline, 13 yarn (a crisis support service for First Nations people), state-funded lines comparable to 13 Healthand bulk-billed telehealth services, which have helped tens of millions of Australians access healthcare on demand and from home.

ED is likewise expanding into recent telehealth models to enhance access to emergency medical care. Virtual EDs allow people to access hospital ED expertise through their phone, computer or tablet.

All Australian states and the Northern Territory have it. Some form of virtual ED At least in development, though not all of those services can be found to most of the people at this stage.

So what’s Virtual ED, and when is it appropriate to contemplate using it?

How does Virtual ED work?

A virtual ED is about up the best way you’ll walk into the front door of a physical ED. First you provide some basic information to the executive staff, you then are triaged by a nurse (this implies they rate the urgency of your case), you then meet with the ED doctor. are Usually, that is all done in a single video call.

In some cases, virtual ED clinicians may seek the advice of with other specialists comparable to neurologists, cardiologists or trauma specialists to make clinical decisions.

A virtual ED is about up the best way you’ll walk into the front door of a physical ED.
Joel Caret/AAP Image

A virtual ED just isn’t suitable for managing medical emergencies that require immediate resuscitation, or potentially severe chest pain, difficulty respiratory or serious injuries.

Virtual ED is best fitted to situations that require immediate attention but will not be life-threatening. These can include bruises, sprains, respiratory ailments, allergic reactions, rashes, bites, pain, infections, minor burns, feverish babies, gastroenteritis, dizziness, hypertension, and more.

People with some of these conditions and concerns may not find a way to go to a GP immediately and should feel they need emergency advice, care or treatment.

When attending the ED, they might experience long wait times and delays in specialist attention because more serious cases are naturally prioritized. Attending a virtual ED can mean they’re seen by doctors more quickly, and may start any relevant treatment sooner.

From a health care system's perspective, virtual EDs are about diverting unnecessary presentations from physical EDs, helping them be ready to answer emergencies. The virtual ED won’t hesitate to direct callers to the physical ED if the staff believes it’s an emergency.

A health care provider in a virtual ED also can refer a patient to a GP or other health skilled, for instance if their condition can’t be assessed visually, or in the event that they need physical therapy.

Results to this point

Virtual EDs have grown significantly over the past three years, driven primarily by the COVID pandemic. We are actually slowly beginning to see reviews of those services.

Fresh appraisal What my colleagues and I discovered about Queensland's Metro North virtual ED was that about 30% of calls were referred to a physical ED. This suggests that 70% of the time, cases may be effectively managed through virtual ED.

Preliminary data From Victorian Virtual Ed indicates that it prevented an identical rate of avoidable ED presentations – 72% of patients were successfully managed by the virtual ED alone. A study on Price effectiveness Another Victorian virtual ED suggested that it had the potential to generate savings in healthcare costs if it prevented physical ED visits.

Only 1.2% of people Diagnosed in Queensland's metro north virtual ED required unexpected hospital admission inside 48 hours of being “discharged” from the virtual ED. None of those cases were fatal. This shows that Virtual ED may be very secure.

Service tested. Average growth rate 65% Each month over the two-year evaluation period, highlights growing demand and confidence within the service. The survey suggested that physicians also viewed virtual EDs positively.

Yellow hard hat on the ground.  People are sitting on the ground nearby after the accident.
The right advice can inform you whether it’s good to go to the hospital in person or not.
First footage/Shutterstock

Now what?

We need more research on patient outcomes and satisfaction, in addition to demographics of users of virtual EDs, and the way these measures compare to physical EDs in numerous triage categories.

There are also challenges related to virtual EDs, including technology (the connection and expertise between patients and health professionals), training (for health professionals) and the importance of maintaining security and privacy.

Nonetheless, these services have the potential to scale back congestion in physical EDs and supply greater convenience for patients.

Eligibility varies between programs, so if you need to use Virtual ED, it’s possible you’ll need to examine that you just are eligible in your jurisdiction. mostly Virtual EDs May be Accessed onlineand a few have direct phone numbers.