Neb. health department completes implementation of EMS telemedicine services

Over 65 ambulances from more than two dozen rural EMS departments are using new technology during transports

By Bill Carey

LINCOLN, Neb. — The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has announced the successful implementation of Avel eCare’s EMS telemedicine services.

Ambulances in more than two dozen rural EMS departments are now equipped to allow EMTs and paramedics to connect virtually with Avel eCare’s emergency physicians, paramedics and nurses for support during transports, the department stated in a press release.

“Putting telemedicine in ambulances is invaluable in rural areas in Nebraska as it provides critical support during complex situations, long transports, or when there is only one provider in the back with a critical patient,” Nebraska DHHS State EMS Director Tim Wilson said. “We are already hearing reports about the multiple benefits and are experiencing strong utilization, which we expect will continue to grow even more now that the program is fully up and running.”

Ravenna Emergency Medical Services was the first to go live in December. Since then, 65 ambulances in 26 communities have been equipped with telehealth tablets, supporting strong field connectivity. Utilization has increased by 151% monthly over the past six months, with most calls for trauma, altered mental status, and cardiac/chest pain.

“Within a week of going live, we had a critical patient that we used telehealth on. The result was even better than I anticipated it would be. Having another set of eyes and a second opinion on the outside looking in was a tremendous comfort,” Atkinson Ambulance Service and Fire & Rescue Captain Jeffrey Mathias, MREMT-P, said. “Everything went as well as could be expected on the call, and having the documentation at the end was amazing. I know our department is grateful to have these new team members, as will anyone else who gets to use the Avel service.”

Participating agencies also have access to Avel eCare’s peer-to-peer consults, pre-hospital documentation support, 24/7 interpretation services, remote ECG readings and diagnostic test reviews.

Nebraska’s EMS telemedicine initiative is funded by a $1.3 million CDC grant aimed at supporting state Emergency Health Systems with recruitment and retention, reducing health disparities, and improving access to care for underserved populations.

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