HumanInsight Admission avoidance for older adults facilitated by telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic
Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2023 Feb 1. doi: 10.2174/1871530323666230201103920. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected older adults and has provided an incentive to find alternatives to emergency department attendance to avoid unnecessary exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. To address this issue, a specialist geriatric multidisciplinary team at Queen Elizabeth Hospital set up a novel telemedicine approach to the ambulance service with the aim of reducing unnecessary emergency department attendance for older adults. This study provides a service evaluation in its first year of use.
METHODS: Service evaluation in the first year of the 'Ask OPAL' (older person Assessment and liaison) hotline for ambulance paramedics, run by a multidisciplinary acute geriatrics team at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham. Data on the number, patient demographics, intervention, and outcome of the calls, were recorded.
RESULTS: During the study period, 2552 'Ask OPAL' calls were conducted. Of the 2552 calls carried out, 1755 patients (69%) remained at home. Of the patients who remained at home, 76% received verbal advice only, while 24% were referred to community services in addition to receiving verbal advice.
CONCLUSION: In conclusion, the use of an integrated multidisciplinary team communicating with paramedics via telemedicine appears to be successful in preventing avoidable hospital admissions in complex patients.
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