Lehigh Valley, Pa.,
09:03 AM

Lehigh Valley Health Network Utilizes Technology to Keep ER Patients Safe

Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) implemented a program in every emergency room throughout the health network to help reduce the risk for patients’ exposure to the COVID-19 virus. iPads are now being utilized at check-in, triage and in patient rooms to minimize unnecessary face-to-face interactions and physical contact.

Registering and triaging patients using iPads isn’t new. LVHN deploys the technology when the ER experiences a surge of patients. It allows us to add more nurses to help triage patients virtually when needed. Since COVID-19, this technology has taken on a new role – keeping patients safe. iPads are now also available in all patient rooms for virtual conversations with the LVHN team.

How does it work?

Each person who enters the ER will now be met at the door by a technical partner who guides patients through check-in and triage while also helping them understand the technology. Like all members of the LVHN team, the technical partner wears a face mask to reduce the risk for spreading COVID-19. During triage, the LVHN team receives a quick snapshot of a patient’s condition to make sure those needing the most critical care are prioritized. The technical partner will gather information needed for the assessment, including weight, blood pressure or blood oxygen level. Using that data and the iPad, a nurse will assess the patient virtually.

Once in a patient room, any member of the care team can speak with the patient through the iPad, even members of the LVHN team who are not in the same unit.

The iPads will not replace in-person care or examinations, and they only will be used when the care team feels it’s appropriate. Patients can request in-person conversations at any time. This new program simply provides another option to minimize the risk for transmitting infectious diseases like COVID-19.

Is this program just for patients who have COVID-19?

No, everyone will receive technical partner assistance at registration and triage, and will be offered an iPad in their room. This program has rolled out not only in the ER, but in inpatient units as well, offering extra safety measures to admitted patients and patients in observation.

What if someone can’t use the tablet?

If for any reason a person is unable to use the iPad, then providers will deliver care in the traditional manner. No one is required to use the iPad. Likewise, providers and nurses will initiate virtual conversations at their discretion.

Does this tablet replace the call button?

No, patients will still have access to a call button. Based on the patient’s needs, a virtual conversation may be initiated as a response to that call.

What about non-English speakers?

Interpreter services can join any virtual conversation on the tablet to ensure the patient is fully informed about care.