Denver Area Hospitals Use Web-Based ER Monitoring System to Reduce Ambulance Diversions
Hospitals and ambulance providers in the Denver area this month began using an Internet-based network to share emergency room status and capacity updates in "real-time," the Denver Post reports. Proponents of the system hope it will reduce ambulance travel times by eliminating unnecessary diversions that occurred under the old telephone- and pager-based system because of outdated information on emergency room status. Under the old system, paramedics could only receive information about emergency room capacity that was hours old. Under the new system, emergency room capacity updates are "instantly" displayed on monitors at hospitals and emergency dispatch centers around the city, once hospital staff enter the information into a computer terminal. Denver-area hospitals collectively paid $40,000 for the system; other users will pay a "small monthly fee" to cover maintenance costs (Austin, Denver Post, 5/24). Meanwhile, the Cleveland-based Center for Health Affairs is considering creating a similar program to track the availability of medical and surgical beds in area hospitals, also in an attempt to address the problem of frequent ambulance diversions (McEnery, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 5/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.