Virtual Emergency Medicine

A female patient laying in an ambulance and a male paramedic beside talk to people via a digital tabled deviceOur patient-centred Virtual Emergency Medicine (VEM) service aims to provide the right care in the right place at the right time by streamlining emergency medicine pathways.

The VEM service connects patients, family, carers, paramedics and clinical specialists using a direct video and telephone link between ambulances and the Command Centre at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

Through collaboration with paramedics, residential aged care facilities and community-based services, VEM can stream ambulance patients directly to the most appropriate healthcare service for their needs. This enables efficient and person-centred care with better outcomes for patients and their families.

The VEM service is a collaboration between South Metropolitan Health Service (SMHS) (external link) and St John WA.

The service has tele-consulted and tele-triaged over 11,000 ambulance patients to appropriate healthcare services since its inception.

How VEM works for patients

The patient in need of emergency care will be assessed by St John WA ambulance paramedics upon arrival at the scene.

If the paramedics determine the VEM service’s streamlined pathways may benefit the patient, they will connect with Command Centre clinicians by telephone or video call.

This provides the patient with more timely access to care by enabling emergency department (ED) staff to undertake a consultation and detailed assessment before the patient’s arrival at the hospital.

A clinical nurse, supported by a specialist consultant, will determine how best to deliver care to the patient, consulting with their next-of-kin, carer or general practitioner (GP) as required.

To ensure the patient receives the required care as soon as possible, the ambulance may be diverted from the emergency department and streamed to another area of the hospital.

Information for health professionals

In you have a patient in need of emergency care, please contact St John WA as usual by dialling triple zero (000).

After assessing the patient at the scene, St John WA paramedics will contact the Command Centre if they determine the VEM service’s streamlined pathways will benefit the patient.

These pathways include:

  • diversion of stable patients to suitable clinics and ambulant areas
  • direct admission of appropriate patients to medical imaging
  • direct admission of appropriate patients to inpatient wards
  • direct admission of appropriate elderly patients to specialist geriatric team at Fremantle Hospital
  • provision of care in residential aged care facilities through community-based outreach health services
  • timely admission into ED when required due to triage before arrival.

If the VEM service is not appropriate for the patient, normal ambulance transport will be provided.

Hours of operation

10.00am – 6.30pm, 7 days per week

Provide feedback on this service

If you or someone you care for has used this service we would welcome your feedback.