3 digital health tools that will innovate EMS

The Podmedic spots trends and products at the Las Vegas consumer electronics show that will improve chronic disease conditions and EMS

By Jamie Davis

Every year at the International CES, the global electronics and innovation tradeshow in Las Vegas, I seek out the latest health and fitness technology. For the Health Tech Weekly show, I investigate trends and products that might EMS providers should be aware of, and that might be of interest to consumers in managing their health.At this year's show, I explored how individuals using digital health innovations to manage their own health and chronic conditions would impact how they interact with EMS. Here are three new digital health tools, coming soon, that will change how we interact with our patients.

Dexcom and other diabetes management tools

Jamie Davis (center) talks about digital health tools that will impact EMS at International CES, a global electronics and innovation tradeshow in Las Vegas. (Image Jamie Davis)
Jamie Davis (center) talks about digital health tools that will impact EMS at International CES, a global electronics and innovation tradeshow in Las Vegas. (Image Jamie Davis)

The revolutionary devices and app from Dexcom and similar companies help patients get a real handle on their diabetes. We all know that many of our diabetic patients have frequent hypoglycemic episodes. All of these episodes have been shown to have negative long-term cardiovascular effects and can lead to early stroke, acute myocardial infarction (AMI), or cardiac arrest.

Dexcom has a set of glucometers that connect by Bluetooth to either a smartphone or a home base station. Using the app or base station, the patient can upload their blood sugar data to caregivers like family members, home health nurses, community paramedics, and doctors. Increased insight into trending blood sugar data will mean fewer calls to EMS.

Trending data also means that when the patient does need our assistance, we can also ask to access that data. Looking for trends or changes might signify a need for further follow-up with a personal physician, transport to the emergency department, or an in-home intervention with a diabetes educator.

Vigilant exhibited a Bluetooth connected insulin pen and syringe system that tracks blood sugar levels from the glucometer and each insulin dose given, allowing even more oversight for people managing their diabetes. The tracking helps the patient avoid missing a dose or overdosing their insulin. Doses and blood sugar levels can be monitored through the Vigilant smartphone app.

iHealth and connected personal health tools

The suite of products from iHealth helps patients with chronic disease conditions track their vital signs and communicate with caregivers. The iHealth suite of tools includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connected devices, like blood pressure cuffs, pulse oximeters, thermometers, scales, glucometers, and telemedicine cameras, to interact remotely with caregivers. Patients with cardiovascular disease or heart failure diagnoses can better track and trend their progress towards recovery or at least stable management of their disease.

At CES, Safe Heart displayed a wireless iOximeter device that tracks pulse oximetry data over time and sends it to a smartphone app. For an asthma or COPD patient they will know their normal or baseline oximetry and the data will help us not over-oxygenate the patient. The iOximeter data app also makes the patient's data on their current exacerbation immediately available upon EMS arrival.

ThermoFlash temporal scanning thermometer

Finally, let’s look at the tool that received my innovator pick from the show. The ThermoFlash, a temporal scanning thermometer, was my top CES digital healthcare innovation pick. You may have seen the ThermoFlash, from the French company BeWell Connect, being used in Africa and at airports for Ebola screening.

The ThermoFlash is an infrared temperature scanner that uses two sensors to calibrate an accurate temporal artery temperature without having to touch the patient at all. One sensor gauges ambient air temperature and the other the skin temperature of the patient. It is FDA approved and they have just come out with a Bluetooth connected home model that will hopefully help anxious parents track and trend their sick kids without having to wake the ill child, causing further distress and agitation (Perhaps meaning less middle of the night sick calls for sick toddlers. A good thing, right?).

ThermoFlash also has EMS usefulness in the assessment, diagnosis, and management of infectious disease outbreaks. For instance, assess of the patient's temp without having to physically contact the patient.

I expect the ThermoFlash to replace the current thermometers on ambulances. It provides a quick and efficient way to get an accurate temp on patients, young and old. And at $60 per unit it's very affordable. Look for the ThermoFlash to be available in the U.S. soon!

Digital health tools help patients and EMS

Digital health products, like the tools and innovations I explored at International CES, are helping patients, especially those patients with chronic disease conditions, take control of their health. When they do this, they become partners in their healthcare and ultimately become better, more informed patients. I look forward to seeing these innovations implemented and the advances to come when I attend the 2016 International CES tradeshow.

About the Author

Jamie Davis is the host of the popular EMS radio and TV show the MedicCast. Weekly episodes can be found at MedicCast.tv, through iTunes, and on many smart TV devices like Roku and Apple TV.  

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