- Alleghany Health Network of Pittsburgh, PA is launching a one-year pilot program wherein emergency first responders will connect certain patients with doctors using iPads rather than taking them to the hospital via ambulance.
- The pre-hospital service has already been used at least once, for a 59-year old diabetic woman who complained of shakiness and anxiety. After receiving minor treatment from first responders and speaking briefly with her doctor online, the woman decided not to use the ambulance.
- The iPad telemedicine pilot will only be used on patients who can consent to using the program.
The program presents an opportunity for patients and Alleghany alike to save money on emergency services. Even the shortest ambulance ride can cost anywhere from $800 to more than $2,000, depending on the region.
"Telemedicine, the use of telecommunications technology to deliver health care, is a rapidly growing component of U.S. healthcare,” said Alleghany vice president Robert J. McCaughan. "This exciting innovation in Pre-hospital care is just the beginning of how we will be using telemedicine in our healthcare system in the coming years."
Telehealth programs are still in their infancy—but analysts widely expect use of such services to explode in the coming decade, with some firms expecting it to balloon from a $240-million domestic market today to nearly $2 billion by 2018.
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