3 ways your smartphone can improve communication between EMS and hospital EDs
Now prehospital providers can give patient health information and transport updates in real time
Sponsored by Pulsara
By Yoona Ha, EMS1 BrandFocus Staff
When you’re transporting a stroke patient, every second matters. JAMA researchers found that it takes an average of seven minutes for EMS units to arrive on the scene, and nearly one in 10 encounters involve up to a 30-minute wait. For some patients, like those who are transported for having an ischemic stroke, every moment is critical.
Patients with time-sensitive emergencies often get treated by multiple providers at different points, each of whom has to update the next provider with the patient’s information. In a highly stressful emergency room environment, it’s easy for communication to break down during EMS patient handoffs.
The breakdown in communication in an acute care setting can increase the instances of patient harm, length of stay and resource use. In fact, one study found that improved handoff communications among providers can reduce hospital medical errors by 30 percent.
That’s why James Woodson, an emergency room physician, founded Pulsara, a smartphone app designed to reduce miscommunication. The app, which is free to EMS providers, streamlines information sharing among different healthcare providers by providing a means of communication all in one place.
EMS miscommunication can be costly to patients, and while prehospital alerting is important, solving the communication crisis requires more than simply notifying the hospital. Tools like the Pulsara platform help first responders easily connect with emergency department providers and specialty care providers using their smartphones.
The app, which is free to EMS providers and the receiving ED, streamlines information sharing among different healthcare providers by providing a means of interfacility and intrafacility communication all in one place. Here’s how:
SEND PATIENT INFORMATION IN ADVANCE, SECURELY
With every patient transport, your goal is to connect the patient with proper care. It can be incredibly frustrating to have to wait until you get past the emergency department’s doors to give your report. Or worse, have to repeat your radio report over and over again, when you’re just trying to focus on the patient in front of you.
With the Pulsara platform, you can update patient information, send pictures and alert emergency department physicians while transporting patients. All you have to do is document the patient’s name, date of birth and reason for being transported. Then, with the tap of a button on your smartphone, you can immediately notify emergency department staff and even specialty care providers like stroke specialists.
This enables the rest of your patient’s treatment team to have the patient’s vitals and other important information in advance. EDs can preregister the patient and be better prepared to receive the patient with this information upfront.
AVOID OPPORTUNITIES FOR MISCOMMUNICATION
When a patient is on the way, any EMS provider using the Pulsara platform can notify staff members of the incoming patient’s information and the estimated time of arrival, thanks to the app’s GPS feature.
Once a patient arrives in the ED, nurses often have to place several calls to relay the same information to different team members. This delay can be catastrophic for those patients who have life-or-death emergencies like a heart attack or a stroke. Hospitals that adopt the full Pulsara hospital package can skip this cumbersome process. All they need to do to notify other care providers, such as the cath lab, is press a button.
“Patients see about a 28 to 46 percent reduction in treatment time when the Pulsara app is used,” said Hannah Waller, Pulsara marketing manager. “One of the biggest benefits to having reduced treatment times is that patients can go home quicker and possibly even survive when they may not have otherwise.”
IMPROVE PATIENT TRANSPORT TRANSPARENCY
Consider the results achieved by PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington. The hospital was challenged by the frequent communication breakdown in an acute care setting, so they partnered with several EMS agencies to try out the Pulsara app in hopes of improving the way information was transmitted across different care teams.
Previously, prehospital providers had been relying on providing radio reports that could potentially become garbled radio transmissions, or even used their own cellphones to communicate sensitive patient health information.
What they found was that with Pulsara, EMS providers could easily share patient information, as well as their location and estimated time of arrival in real time.
Now EMS personnel at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center don’t have to spend their energy worrying about possible HIPAA compliance violations, since they can simply use Pulsara’s secure chat features to quickly communicate with the emergency department team.
Relying on outdated communication channels is now becoming a thing of the past with easy-to-use solutions like Pulsara that streamline communications from the field to the emergency department.