New Jersey medical center equips EMS units with tech from General Devices, Sonim
Emergency-medical-service (EMS) paramedic units for AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City, N.J., will be able to leverage the e-Bridge Mobile Telemedicine application from General Device (GD) and Sonim Technologies’ XP8 ultra-rugged smartphones in an effort to save critical treatment time for patients.
General Devices CEO Curt Bashford said his company developed e-Bridge several years ago primarily as an application that delivered secure, HIPAA-compliant messages, but reliable connectivity from FirstNet and rugged broadband devices like the Sonim XP8 has allowed the application to support multimedia use.
“e-Bridge is a mobile telemedicine app, and it can pass everything from simple secure text-notification messages to multimedia—pictures, video clips, or other data we can pull from cardiac monitors,” Bashford said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “We can do live-streaming video, and we can do concurrent video, so medics can confer with physicians back at the hospital—or if they want to, engage the patient with the physician—they have the ability to do that, as well, all in a HIPAA-secure way to move this information.
“With FirstNet, it gives them that pipe that’s really appropriate for these use cases. These are some of the early use cases envisioned for that [FirstNet]—being able to do video, being able to do telemedicine. Having more surety, priority and quality of service gives them what they need to make some of these things practical.”
Such capabilities can be important to the outcome of a patient, particularly one with a health issue that requires timely response and treatment, such a stroke—a focal point for AtlantiCare.
“In the case of a stroke, for every minute that passes, about two million brain cells are lost, so time is of the essence,” according to a joint press release from GD and Sonim. “With just a few simple clicks using the GD e-Bridge app on the Sonim phone, paramedics can quickly capture and pass critical information to emergency department (ED) physicians at the hospital which then enables them to call the code stroke alert sooner. This engages the hospital teams to speed care and streamline workflow to more quickly get a CT scan and ultimately clear the clot soon after the ambulance arrives.”
Bashford echoed this sentiment, noting that the solution is designed “to get the right information and the right data back to the hospital timely, pre-arrival [of the patient], so the hospital can do the best that they can to shorten the process, streamline workflows and ultimately get that patient up to the cath lab or wherever they need to bust up that clot in the brain, get blood flowing again and stop that stroke.”
This solution was logical step for AtlantiCare, which already used Sonim phones, subscribed to FirstNet and has been a longtime customer of GD’s CAREpoint Workstation to coordinate communications in its emergency department, according to the press release. Although the initial focus of the initiative is stroke treatment, the solution will be expanded to address other acute-care issues, such as heart attacks, trauma, sepsis and opioid incidents.
Where medical personnel once were “kind of slaves primarily to voice [communications],” modern communications allow patient information to be shared with hospital staff while the ambulance is in the field or en route, enabling the emergency department to be better prepared, Bashford said. And the use case for the e-Bridge platform is not limited to critical trauma situations, he said.
“Whether it be day-to-day or emergency stuff, there a whole new facet in EMS care that’s evolving,” Bashford said. “It’s called mobile integrated healthcare or community paramedicine. This is taking care of patients and not transporting folks. It’s about keeping folks out of the hospital that don’t really need to go.”
“Now, they’re taking care of patients and, hopefully we can leave them in the home, monitor them, follow up and prevent unnecessary readmits to the hospital or the frequent high utilizers that end up in the [emergency department] a lot and really need to get channeled to the appropriate facility. It’s all about the right care, the right place and the right time.”
Bob Escalle, Sonim Technologies’ vice president for public-safety market segments, said that the evolution of wireless communications is helping support the telemedicine proposition.
“I think the whole telemedicine piece of it is becoming more and more of a reality,” Escalle said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “As more of these applications [deliver] … HIPAA-compliant information in a secure, encrypted format, I think you’re going to see more and more telemedicine-type applications and capabilities in the streets. FirstNet, with that priority and preemption is a key element there, to have that information across that network.
“The e-Bridge solution is quite impressive, with its capabilities. It’s all about saving lives at the end of the day. If you can provide information, get that information there quickly and providing that analysis and feedback for EMS personnel, at the end of the day, you’re saving lives. That’s so critical and so important.”
In addition to the network improvements, the evolution of capabilities within devices has made it practical for applications like e-Bridge to expand their scope significantly—something Sonim has experienced as its product line has evolved to the XP8, Escalle said.
“Obviously, the advanced processors from Qualcomm provide the next level of capabilities on the video side of things and data-throughput connectivity,” he said. “And you have a bigger screen, so you have a much bigger footprint for visibility and user information for a person using XP8. I think the XP8 has kind of brought it to a new level with its capabilities and screen size, especially with FirstNet from a connectivity standpoint. All in all, it’s a better experience.”
Bashford agreed, noting that better devices and improved connectivity options have made once-theoretical applications practical in real-world scenarios.
“Once mobile devices started to become reliable, that was a game changer,” Bashford said. Now, we could do in a portable, mobile world what we had to do in the back of the ambulance before—doing it more now as an app and still being able to connect EMS in the field, whether it be on the side of the road at an accident, in a patient’s home or wherever it may be back to the medical director or back to a hospital’s emergency department, more typically.”