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The future look of medical communications

Technology could allow us to do amazing things in collaboration with ER nurses and physicians

With all the physiological data we have available nowadays, we need a way to send all this to the hospital. If the ambulance had a repeater of sorts, with several strategically placed cameras and microphones it could actually help bring the emergency physician in to the back of the ambulance, virtually, for the first time.

It's already been done and proven technologically viable. I think the biggest challenge is us. For years it was common for me to hear "we don't send ECGs anymore, the doctor trusts our interpretations". Fine —but how about we trust their years of education and experience, and quit being so easily threatened?

I'd love to invite every ER nurse and physician into the back of my ambulance virtually. We could really do amazing things in collaboration. That's the higher calling of pre-hospital health care.

We could have all types of collaborating professionals helping to create new and innovative solutions to stubborn problems. Imagine having a cardiologist take a look at your MI patient or an orthopedic surgeon helping direct management of an athlete's shattered limb. Less guessing and more help sounds like a long overdue stress-reliever to me.

Ultimately, the physicians are the ones signing for responsibility. That is not to minimize our responsibility, only to acknowledge their "buck stops here" responsibility. We should trust their, let's face it, superior diagnostic skills.

If we could stop clogging up the airwaves with a long monologue of basic data orally, we'd free up valuable time. It should all be right there, on the screen, all of it, by the time you press the button to link or send. That's how we redistribute expensive staff time to extract new and meaningful value out of a system already strapped for cash.

Yes it means we will have to polish our language and demeanor being on camera so much, but the payoff is worth it. Excellence will be shared and incompetence revealed. I think it will help move our industry and patient care forward. But it won't happen until we all start asking for it to happen and why it hasn't happened already.

It's easy for any of us to see in our mind's eye how it would look:

  • A big monitor in the ER displaying the incoming units P, R, SAO2, ETCO2, Temp, BP, with all numeric clinical data across the bottom of the screen
  • The upper sections would have ECG, and a real-time streaming video view of the patient
  • Next to the image would be smaller alternate views that could be blown up to full view at a tap or click
  • All audio, everything that is said, even your stethoscope, would be pumped out of the hospital's speakers
  • All the data, audio and video, gets written to backup and digitally recorded

OK, so where is it, which agencies have it, and how can you have it too? I'll cover that in next month's article.

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