Disposition of patients utilising the virtual emergency department service in southeast region of Melbourne (SERVED-1)

Muhuntha Sri-Ganeshan, Biswadev Mitra, Georgia Soldatos, Maddi Howard, Neil Goldie, Fergus McGee, Ziad Nehme, Andrew Underhill, Gerard M. O'Reilly, Peter A. Cameron, on behalf of the Southeast Region Virtual Emergency Department (SERVED) Research Group

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Objective: Supported by the state government, three health networks partnered to initiate a virtual ED (VED), as part of a broader roll-out of emergency telehealth services in Victoria. The aim of the present study (Southeast Region Virtual Emergency Department-1 [SERVED-1]) was to report the initial 5-month experience and included all patients assessed through the service over the first 5 months (1 February 2022 to 30 June 2022). Methods: VED consults occurred after referral from paramedics in the pre-hospital setting. Electronic medical records were retrospectively reviewed for demographic, presenting complaint and outcome data. The primary outcome was the count of VED consultations. The secondary outcome was the proportion of patients where physical ED attendance was avoided within 72 h. The proportion of physical ED attendances avoided sub-grouped by primary presenting complaints were reported. Results: There were 1748 patients who had a VED consultation, of which 1261 (72.1%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 70.0–74.2) patients had physical presentation to an ED avoided in the 72 h following the consult. There was a significant increase in consultations over the 5-month period (incidence rate ratio 1.27; 95% CI 1.23–1.31, P < 0.001) that was consistent in the three health services. The most common presenting complaints were COVID-19 and shortness of breath, and physical presentation was avoided most often among younger patients and those with COVID-19. Conclusions: Initial experience demonstrated a significant increase in adoption of the service and an overall avoidance of physical ED attendance by a majority of patients. These results support ongoing VED consultations, complemented by follow up and health economic evaluations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-559
Number of pages7
JournalEMA - Emergency Medicine Australasia
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • emergency medical services
  • emergency medicine
  • telemedicine

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