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Doctor on screen observing a patient in an emergency department.

Telehealth for emergency departments

Virtual rounds

Providers can use telehealth technology to check on emergency department patients virtually. This helps limit the number of providers who are physically present and exposed to contagious diseases. It also saves time and conserves personal protective equipment.


Virtual rounds typically involve a patient’s care team using video technology installed in the patient’s room to talk with the patient from another location.


Benefits of doing virtual rounds:

  • Ability to include the patient’s family if they can’t be there in-person
  • Providing care from multiple specialists during a single exam if needed
  • Opportunity to expand participation to pharmacists, care coordinators, students, and other staff to help with documentation

Virtual rounding is especially important during COVID-19 to help:

  • Preserve limited personal protective equipment
  • Build trust between patient and provider because it can allow patients to see their provider’s face without a protective mask
  • Allow providers who are in self-isolation to continue to provide care

Getting started

In addition to the items on the getting started page, consider:

  • What software you will use — a new or existing telehealth platform or a consumer product
  • If you will equip each patient’s room with a device or have a mobile station you move from room to room
  • How you will train the providers and staff to troubleshoot the technology and set it up for the patients
  • How you will coordinate schedules when expanding attendees to include family members or other providers
  • What protocols you will use for sanitizing equipment after use
  • How you will handle informed consent