Teamwork is important for patient care and outcome in emergencies. In rural areas, efficient communication between rural hospitals and regional trauma centers optimise decisions and treatment of trauma patients. Little is known on potentials and effects of virtual team to team cooperation between rural and regional trauma teams.
We adapted a video conferencing (VC) system to the work process between multidisciplinary teams responsible for trauma as well as medical emergencies between one rural and one regional (university) hospital. We studied how the teams cooperated during simulated critical scenarios, and compared VC with standard telephone communication. We used qualitative observations and interviews to evaluate results.
The team members found VC to be a useful tool during emergencies and for building "virtual emergency teams" across distant hospitals. Visual communication combined with visual patient information is superior to information gained during ordinary telephone calls, but VC may also cause interruptions in the local teamwork.
VC can improve clinical cooperation and decision processes in virtual teams during critical patient care. Such team interaction requires thoughtful organisation, training, and new rules for communication.
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