App makes emergency response faster, more efficient
By Karen Dandurant email@example.com
Posted Jun 27, 2019 at 9:19 AM
Updated Jun 27, 2019 at 9:19 AM
EXETER - Exeter Hospital is implementing new technology in its Emergency Department that will allow for more efficient and faster communication between EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) in the field and the emergency department.
Eric Jaeger, an Exeter Hospital paramedic, said the hospital is the first in the state to use this brand-new technology.
“In the past two-years, Exeter Hospital has been working on a campaign of EMS engagement, to try and improve communication between us and the various departments and agencies that bring in patients,” said Jaeger. “We want to offer them better access to the emergency department and better ability to swap out equipment. We have worked to enhance our stroke services and this new service will go a long way to achieving our goals of improving the way we work with local EMS services.”
Currently, local EMTs at local fire departments call from the ambulance with information on the patient they are bringing in. Exeter Hospital has acquired an app called Twiage that will be used by the hospital staff and Exeter Hospital EMTs at no cost, and will be offered to area emergency services that bring patients to Exeter Hospital.
Laura Thibeault, Emergency Services Manager at Exeter Hospital, said the system is a brand- new platform.“We heard about it from our peers in EMS services and we took a look at it,” said Thibeault. “It will make what we all do faster and more efficient.”
Jaeger said another hospital in another state has reported that when dealing with stroke victims, where time is of the essence, they have shaved time off getting the patient from their home and into vital CT scans.
Twiage allows direct, one-on one communication between EMS and hospital staff. For critical care patients, likes stroke or trauma, care can begin sooner, be more efficient, with fewer delays in accessing services.
“Historically, communication has been by radio, or, more recently phone,” said Jaeger. “That can be challenging due to signals and other coverage issues. There is also a concern for privacy, who can hear the exchange since it goes out over a public frequency. Phone conversations need to be in real time. It’s not like you can leave a message if the nurse is tied up.”
Jaeger said Twiage can be used by both Android and iPhone platform users. He said that while the app requires a signal to work, it is the same as what is needed for a text, less than what a phone call requires. If, for any reason, the signal cannot get through the app will keep trying, freeing up the EMT to keep helping the patient.
“You tap a couple of buttons and give information,” he said. “I can do this from the patient’s bedside, before they are even in the ambulance. It is essentially a text conversation where we can ask questions back and forth. We can tell the hospital when symptoms began, what the patient’s blood glucose levels are and whatever else is needed. Care starts sooner and the hospital staff can be ready as soon as the patient arrives. One thing that takes time is that it is required that the patient be registered on arrival at the hospital. With this app, I can just send them an image of the patient’s license. They can take care of registering the patient. That happens before we even leave the home.”
Thibeault said the hospital staff can also access the patient’s prior medical records if they have been a patient at Exeter Hospital.
“The app uses real-time GPS, so the hospital can track where we are and know how long it will be before the ambulance arrives,” said Jaeger. “That allows the doctor to meet the patient in the hallway as soon as they arrive. It is more efficient and greatly benefits the patient.”
The system is completely HIPAA compliant, protecting patients’ privacy. After the case is delivered to the hospital, the patient’s personal information is deleted.
“We had our own internal IT department look at this thoroughly,” said Thibeault. “It has been through the wringer as far as checking the security, so we feel comfortable using it. Also, while there are no names, data collection is easier because we can go into the program and look at the numbers of strokes, of heart attacks and other conditions.”
While they are the first, Jaeger said he hopes all area medical services and hospitals begin to use Twiage. He said he knows the area EMS services use other hospitals as well and he said the improvement in communication can only help everyone.
“We are offering this at no cost to our area services, but the choice to use it is theirs,” said Jaeger. “We will be maintaining our radio and telephone communication lines, and no EMS provider will be forced to use this new technology, but we believe Twiage offers significant advantages for EMS providers, for the hospital, and for our patients. Ultimately, we see the technology as strengthening the partnership and engagement between Exeter Hospital and EMS.”