Video or Telephone? A Natural Experiment on the Added Value of Video Communication in Community Paramedic Responses

Publication Date


Journal Title

Ann Emerg Med


© 2020 American College of Emergency Physicians Study objective: The objective of this study was to determine the effect of video versus telephonic communication between community paramedics and online medical control physicians on odds of patient transport to a hospital emergency department (ED). Methods: This was a retrospective analysis of data from a telemedicine-capable community paramedicine program operating within an advanced illness management program that provides home-based primary care to approximately 2,000 housebound patients per year who have advanced medical illness, multiple chronic conditions, activities of daily living dependencies, and past-year hospitalizations. Primary outcome was difference in odds of ED transport between community paramedicine responses with video communication versus those with telephonic communication. Secondary outcomes were physicians’ perception of whether video enhanced clinical evaluation and whether perceived enhancement affected ED transport. Results: Of 1,707 community paramedicine responses between 2015 and 2017, 899 (53%) successfully used video; 808 (47%) used telephonic communication. Overall, 290 patients (17%) were transported to a hospital ED. In the adjusted regression model, video availability was not associated with a significant difference in the odds of ED transport (odds ratio 0.80; 95% confidence interval 0.62 to 1.03). Online medical control physicians reported that video enhanced clinical evaluation 85% of the time, but this perception was not associated with odds of ED transport. Conclusion: We found support that video is considered an enhancement by physicians overseeing a community paramedicine response, but is not associated with a statistically significant difference in transport to the ED compared with telephonic communication in this nonrandom sample. These results have implications for new models of out-of-hospital care that allow patients to be evaluated and treated in the home.

Document Type



Faculty; Northwell Researcher; SOM Student


School of Medicine; Northwell Health

Primary Department

General Internal Medicine

Additional Departments

Emergency Medicine; Psychiatry





For the public and Northwell Health campuses