Background: Telepresence is emerging in clinical and educational settings as a potential modality to provide expert guidance during remote airway management. This study aimed to compare the effectiveness of telepresent versus in-person supervision of tracheal intubation.
Materials and methods: A randomized, crossover study was performed in a university medical simulation center with 48 first- and second-year medical students with no formal procedural training in tracheal intubation. Each participant was assigned to receive each of four study arms in random sequence: (1) direct laryngoscopy (DL) with in-person supervision, (2) DL with telepresent supervision, (3) videolaryngoscopy (VL) with in-person supervision, and (4) VL with telepresent supervision. Telepresence was established with a smartphone (Apple [Cupertino, CA] iPhone(®)) via FaceTime(®) connection. The primary outcome measure was the time to successful intubation. Secondary outcome measures included first pass success rate and the number of blade and tube attempts.
Results: There was no significant difference between in-person and telepresent supervision for any of the outcomes. The median difference (in-person versus telepresent) for time to intubation was -3 s (95% confidence interval [CI], -20 to 14 s). The odds ratio for first attempt success was 0.7 (95% CI, 0.3-1.3), and the rate ratio for extra number of blade attempts (i.e., attempts in addition to first) was 1.1 (95% CI, 0.7-1.7) and 1.4 (95% CI, 0.9-2.2) for extra number of tube attempts.
Conclusions: In this study population of procedurally naive medical students, telepresent supervision was as effective as in-person supervision for tracheal intubation.
Keywords: intubation; telemedicine; telepresence; videolaryngoscopy.