Paramedic develops app to assist in crisis care
The app is used by medics and firefighters to send images and video from the field to the emergency room
By Jennifer Rios
BROOMFIELD, Colo. — Minutes count in the time between ambulance sirens sound and when patients are wheeled into emergency rooms — a maxim Broomfield resident Mike Kobneck saw first-hand.
Kobneck was a paramedic for more than 10 years before he started up Novum Concepts and created the Biophone app with Kevin Scardina, a fellow paramedic and software developer.
The smartphone app is used by first responders to send images and video from the field to the emergency room.
"I kept seeing a lot of issues around the transition from pre-hospital care to getting people to the hospital and making that transition smooth," he said. "It's incredibly unsmooth right now."
A comment from an ER doctor — expressing a wish to see what medics see in the field — furthered his resolve to build the app, which was done with a fellow medic and program friend.
The two worked nights and weekends for about 10 months to develop the app, which has been live in Good Samaritan Medical Center since August.
Since then it has transported information for more than 340 patients — a task that can be done on site, at the scene of a crash or in someone's living room, or by using a hotspot inside the ambulance.
Lafayette's two fire stations average about seven calls a day for the 12-square-mile jurisdiction, Lt. Noah Harkless said, and more than 80 percent are medical calls.
Approximately 10 of the city's 18 paramedics use the app, said Harkless, who is a proponent and one of the most active users.
"I think the big key is on the critical incidents. Say someone's having a stroke or a heart attack, we can send the info to the hospital and then they can get the right people into the room and the patient entered into the system to allow quicker treatment," Harkless said.
Kobneck offers training to departments, but paramedics in Lafayette simply downloaded the app and began using it.
An icon on the app's main page brings up a comment section so firefighters can submit questions from their phones.
The six-step process takes seconds to compete — paramedics snap a photo of a patient's drivers license, select a medical complaint and a severity level, pick a medical facility and an estimated time of arrival. They hit the send/call button and their part of the registration process is complete.
Photos are saved to the app, which is HIPAA compliant, and not on phones, Kobneck said. Currently only IDs are sent, but in the coming months he hopes photos will also include photos of patient ailments.
So far the app has not had any issues relating to security, Kobneck said.
Most common calls — cardiac alerts and arrests, strokes and major trauma — are listed at the top of the app's 25-30 complaints, which include chest pain, hip fracture from a fall, diabetic or abdominal pain. Paramedics also have the ability to text a medical issue if it's not listed.
Biophone is free for paramedics who can download it on department-owned or personal phones. The app is available for iOS, Android and iPad.
So far medics with Mountain View Fire Rescue, Louisville Fire Department, Lafayette and Rocky Mountain Fire have downloaded the app.
Hospitals that use the app pay a monthly subscription fee and receive the incoming information on an iPad.
The quicker a patient is registered with the hospital, the faster diagnostic tools, such as CAT scans, lab tests or X-rays, can be ordered, Kobneck said.
"It seems to streamline the patient hand-off from our perspective," firefighter and paramedic Travis Rohde said.
Kobneck handles much of the demographic input, which takes the registration portion out of medics hands and lets them focus on the patient, Rohde said.
Last week the app was used in a trauma scenario where a bicyclist and vehicle collided. It also speeds up registration time with cardiac patients at a nearby nursing home. Because the facility is so close to Good Samaritan it leaves the hospital little prep time.
"It makes it a lot easier for (paramedics) to focus on patient care and not the registration component," Kobneck said. "That was kind of our number one goal."
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