In an emergency, the tele-emergency doctor arrives


Paramedics on the ground can use all the extra help they can get. The Red Cross of Lower Austria is therefore testing live connections to operations via data glasses.

The patient is treated by two people, but only one is on site, the emergency physician is connected via the latest technology – He sees what the physically present emergency paramedic sees through his glasses and gives instructions for action. This scenario is part of the pilot project “Telenotarzt” of the Red Cross Lower Austria (RKNÖ), which runs until the end of 2021. The goal is to be able to help patients on site even faster if necessary – with this innovative approach, an emergency doctor can be called in for consultation at any time. In Aachen, Germany, this type of telemedicine is already being used in practice; in Austria, the RKNÖ is venturing into new territory.

Different models are currently being tested – one of them is the live connection by means of data glasses, another is the live transmission of ECG values or the use of an app for image transmission. However, not everything that is new and possible is automatically good and practical, which is precisely why different possibilities are being tried out and subjected to an accompanying evaluation.

Eight times patients have already been treated by the “Telenotarzt”. But it is already clear: In the case of a critical patient, the best option is an emergency doctor at the scene of the emergency. Technology can never replace that. But it would make sense if a patient’s condition unexpectedly deteriorated and the paramedic was supported by an emergency doctor via telemedicine to bridge the time until a subsequently requested emergency doctor arrives on the scene.

RKNÖ President Schmoll expects the use of telemedical techniques “to improve prehospital emergency care and to make more efficient use of the associated human and material resources”. However, many questions still need to be clarified during the pilot phase.