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In the current pandemic, getting access to medical treatment is more important and more difficult than ever. But receiving good care doesn’t necessarily have to involve a trip to the emergency room. On March 13, Eagle County Paramedic Services (ECPS) launched a telemedicine program called Hippo Health designed to connect patients with their health care options beyond a hospital visit.
“We’ve been working on rolling out this telemedicine platform for months now,” said Chris Montera, CEO of Eagle County Paramedic Services. “The fact that it coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic was fortuitous timing.”
Hippo Health is an app that provides on-demand care for patients. Accessible via an app or Chrome web browser, Hippo Health has talk, text and video capabilities to connect users with paramedics and their local established clinics quickly and securely. The Hippo Health platform allows patients to talk to their doctor and their care team virtually, as well as allowing that care team to talk to other care teams in the community whether or not they have the electronic medical record or practice.
“It speeds up the process,” said Chris Marsh, paramedic and fleet coordinator at ECPS. “When someone calls 911, they give their name, phone number and date of birth. All we have to do is invite the patient on Hippo and we can connect with them right away. There’s even potential to video chat on our way.”
Eagle County residents can download the app for free before the need arises, further cutting response time. By utilizing the app, not only can paramedics talk to patients en route, but they can also help determine whether or not a trip to the emergency room is necessary, potentially reducing healthcare costs.
“Our goal is that we’re right outside of your door—we can connect with you and see you,” Montera said. “We can conduct a virtual assessment and determine how severe the illness is and make best recommendations for your health. Then, we can follow up the next day with the same program to see how you’re doing.”
Additionally, as Coronavirus continues to spread, the use of telemedicine technology like Hippo Health can help reduce the risk of exposure to paramedics, too.
“This program can help protect paramedics and patients, to ensure we’re not exposing them unnecessarily to COVID-19,” said Kevin McGarvey, MD, CEO at Hippo Health. “We’re keeping them safe and working to keep care professionals healthy in our workforce.”
Hippo Health is also available for use by doctors and other health care providers in Eagle County as it’s a county-wide response model. However, Eagle County Paramedic Services is the first organization to utilize the program. Hippo Health will be offering the platform for unlimited use to any county across Colorado.
To download the free app to be prepared it is needed, visit hippohealth.com/eaglecounty.
Emergency Medical Services, more commonly known as EMS, is an essential public service. You can easily recognize EMS when you see ambulances and medical helicopters responding to incidents in our community, but EMS is much more than emergency medical response and transport. EMS is part of an intricate system of agencies and organizations; communications and transportation networks; trauma systems, as well as hospitals, trauma centers, and specialty care centers; rehabilitation facilities; and highly trained professionals —including volunteer and career prehospital personnel, physicians, nurses, therapists, administrators, government officials and an informed public that knows what to do in a medical emergency. Each player in the EMS system has an essential job to perform as part of a coordinated system of care. —Adapted from NHTSA