Success Stories

NETRC Provides Telemedicine Expertise in Development of Regional Disaster Health Response System (RDHRS)

On September 27, 2018, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Readiness (ASPR) awarded two $3 million grants to investigate and develop regional disaster health response systems (RDHRS). Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, Massachusetts, received one of the two grants to conduct a pilot project that demonstrates the potential effectiveness and viability of an RDHRS in Massachusetts/Region 1 (MA/R1). A major goal of the RDHRS project is todevelop a novel telemedicine system to rapidly expand access to various clinical subject matter experts (SME) that maybe needed in disasters. In the prototype system model, a national registry of expert teleconsultants would be rapidly activated and deployed to provide on-demand, virtual clinical support for regional field sites at the point of need. In Year One of the RDHRS project, MGH partnered with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Medical Center, the American Burn Association (ABA), and other state and local healthcare organizations to conduct a large simulation exercise to demonstrate functionality of the newly developed MA/R1 RDHRS and the prototype telemedicine system model. This simulation demonstrated the feasibility of an RDHRS and highlighted access to disaster telemedicine services as a critical system component.

As part of the MA/R1 RDHRS year two work, the RDHRS telemedicine team requested assistance from NETRC to develop a rapidly deployable, device agnostic, easy to use, and flexible telemedicine platform that could expand access to SMEs during disasters. The multidisciplinary, multi-institutional RDHRS telemedicine team consists of experts in emergency medicine, emergency systems, and public health.

In February, 2020 the team visited the Boston 911 emergency call center, the MGH TeleStroke program, and the Dartmouth Hitchcock TeleED and TeleICU program to assess existing telehealth systems and what elements were critical to a disaster telemedicine platform. Ultimately, the team determined that the RDHRS platform needed to automate as much of the disaster telemedicine system workflow as possible. The team reached out to Bluestream Health (BSH) to determine if the BSH Tele-interpreter platform could be modified from language experts to medical SMEs. BSH was interested in developing the platform. Then the COVID-19 PHE was declared…