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Ambulances will provide video-link to clinicians in pilot project

Video equipment in ambulances allowing clinicians to assess patients remotely is being rolled-out under a new pilot by the HSE, the Medical Independent has learned. 

The National Ambulance Service (NAS) is to trial the project in two vehicles in Cork (West Cork and North Cork) with the aim of exploring how telemedicine could benefit patients and the wider health service.

This will be the first time telemedicine technology has been used in the treatment of patients within NAS ambulances, it is understood.

An ambulance for Clonakilty is currently being fitted-out with the necessary technology and will be in use by the end of June.

According to a spokesperson for the NAS, it is exploring “the possibility of using the emergency ambulances’ built-in connectivity infrastructure to allow clinicians to connect and therefore examine a patient in real-time via remotely-controlled high definition cameras, while also consulting directly with the paramedic and patient”.

They continued: “This is currently being explored for the Cork area and is being piloted in two vehicles. The objective of the pilot is to explore the use of telemedicine and the benefits to our patients and to the wider health service. 

“The National Ambulance Service is currently working on the best utilisation of the technology with regard [to] patient care and possible alternative/appropriate pathways for patients in West and North Cork (two ambulances fitted with the technology). 

“Once the pilot operational period is concluded, an evaluation of the pilot project will be conducted to determine the appropriate next steps.”

The spokesperson declined to comment on the costs of the pilot and any possible plans for further roll-out.

The National Ambulance Service Delivery Plan 2019 includes plans to commence new initiatives, including “telemedicine, eAmbulance and community paramedicine”.

Similar technology has been used in ambulances in the NHS.

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