Mayor's Office Press Release

City EMS Director Wins National Innovator Award for Telemedicine Program

Houston’s ETHAN Project Takes National Stage

February 29, 2016 -- Houston Director of Emergency Medical Services Dr. David Persse, MD, FACEP has received a 2015 EMS10 Innovators award for creating the City’s Emergency Telehealth and Navigation program known as ETHAN.  ETHAN utilizes video conferencing to connect City paramedics out in the field with physicians in the office, thus allowing for nonemergency care without the need of ambulance transport to the emergency room.  The program is helping the City achieve more efficient and cost-effective EMS operations. Paramedics have more time to respond to life-threatening situations because they aren’t being tied up with nonemergency ambulance transports.

“This initiative is proving that innovative local government can solve complex problems facing all communities,” said Dr. Persse. “The ETHAN project is a great example of how grass roots ideas and cooperative effort can work together seamlessly.”

Launched in Houston in December 2014, ETHAN is a true innovation in healthcare – the first of its kind to utilize telemedicine to link physicians with firefighters in the field.  In the first 12 months of operation, there has been a steady increase in use throughout the city.  Fire Station 46 was one of the first to integrate ETHAN into daily operations and regularly leads the department in the number of ETHAN patient contacts.

This is the eighth year of the EMS10 Innovators awards, a program jointly sponsored by Physio-Control and the Journal of Emergency Medical Services.  The nominees are judged on their hard work, dedication and selfless efforts.  The awards go to those individuals the selection committee feels demonstrate the visionary programs that can have the greatest impact on the future of EMS.

Dr. Persse and ETHAN are profiled in a special digital supplement to the Journal of Emergency Medical Services to not only inform and educate the public on Houston’s innovative work in EMS, but also to encourage the industry to think outside the box, and take some calculated risks that could make a difference for patients and EMS systems.

To read the article on Dr. Persse, please click the link below.