Host Carrie Chitsey Wells has on the show guest Dr. Michael Gonzalez from the Houston Fire Department and one of the creators of the innovative ETHAN Program. The ETHAN (Emergency Telehealth and Navigation) is a community-based paramedicine approach that integrates the extensive use of mobile video health technology with traditional medical care.

The ETHAN program is being funded by the Texas 1115 Healthcare Transformation Waiver Program and began in late 2014. It has since morphed into one of the first video telehealth programs used by a city globally.

An overview of how the ETHAN program works:

  • After a first responder arrives on scene, the crew assesses the patient to determine if they require emergency care or activates the ETHAN program. 

  • A tablet that is in every fire/EMS truck is then used to connect the patient with an emergency physician via HIPAA compliant video conferencing technology. 

  • The physician then determines if the patient should be referred to a community clinic via taxi, referred to the ED via taxi, transferred by ambulance to ED, or referred to their own doctor.

Listen to Carrie discuss some of the following topics with Dr. Michael Gonzalez: 

  • They talk through the numbers, ROI and how 80% of the outcomes did NOT require an ambulance. 

  • Where is the future of 911, 311, and natural disaster video telehealth headed? Will the future of callers/patients in non-life threatening situations connect with their own smartphones through video telehealth without having to dispatch an ambulance or fire truck? 

  • What are the lessons learned to share with other cities and municipalities?

A diagram of how the ETHAN program works, the numbers, savings, ROI can be found in the Infographic here.