South Dakota launches next generation of EMS services

Staff report

PIERRE – The South Dakota Department of Health (DOH) is taking part in a new telehealth partnership between DOH, Emergency Medical Service (EMS) agencies, and Sioux Falls-based telemedicine provider, Avel eCare. This initiative will use telemedicine to transform the delivery of care provided to patients throughout the state. During the 2022 Legislative session, Governor Kristi Noem requested, and the South Dakota Legislature approved, three funding initiatives to infuse up to $20 million into EMS in South Dakota. Telemedicine in Motion is one of the three initiatives, with a budget of $1.7 million. Avel eCare was selected after a nationwide Request for Proposals process.

“Telemedicine in Motion will connect EMS agencies throughout South Dakota to board certified Emergency Physicians and registered nurses via telemedicine from Avel eCare,” said Joan Adam, DOH Cabinet Secretary. “Many of our EMS agencies experience long distances to travel, when our residents need care the most.  Through Telemedicine in Motion, Avel will provide virtual triage and consulting services to EMS professionals through two-way audio and video in the back of the ambulance. This initiative will improve the coordination of care between our EMS providers and hospitals.”

The partnership with Avel offers each participating licensed ground ambulance service in South Dakota a telehealth solution that will include the necessary hardware, software, installation, training, support, and telehealth subscription for professional consulting services at no cost. Avel will work directly with EMS providers on the initial installation and continued support. The goal is to support the retention and recruitment of EMS workforce with access to on-demand support.

The communities of Dell Rapids and Humboldt have already received equipment installation and are undergoing testing this week. The DOH and Avel aim to have at least 60 EMS agencies up and running with virtual telemedicine capabilities by next spring.

“This investment in the future of EMS in South Dakota ensures a seamless care experience in the most critical times,” said Adam. “The model of care we established through this public-private partnership is unprecedented. This statewide initiative is the first of its kind and is a pioneering opportunity to advance care to patients and support pre-hospital professionals.”

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