From driverless cars through medical drones to artificial intelligence (A.I.), advanced technologies are enhancing the field of emergency medical services or EMS. It’s helpful to have a better look at how those technologies are influencing emergency care in Canada and what lies ahead.
There are endless numbers of car crashes, home injuries, fires, natural disasters every minute, if not every second. Treatment in such cases of medical emergencies has to be fast and efficient. High-risk patients chances of survival or proper recovery would decrease if not treated at the right time. When deprived of oxygen, permanent brain damage begins after only 4 minutes, while death can occur as soon as 4-6 minutes later. In this race against time, digital health technologies that turn patients into the point-of-care could prove to be game-changers for first responders, emergency units and paramedics in Canada and around the world.
Our Paramedic Academy mentors have also collected in this article those trends and innovations that are putting the future of emergency medical services in Canada on the fast lane.
Artificial Intelligence: Logistics And Capacity Allocation
As A.I. impacts healthcare from drug discovery through helping in diagnoses to finding unusual associations, the technology is also finding a new home in the medical emergency department of Canada. Generally EMS or paramedic operations generate an immense amount of data from the 3000 daily cases and how their cars cover over 40 million kilometres per year, smart algorithms are the logical solution to mine this data for predictions.
In 2020, the software company Hexagon also introduced their A.I. solution for medical emergency services. Their HxGN OnCall Dispatch | Smart Advisor system mines and analyses operational data in real-time to detect patterns and identify major events as they happen. As anomalies are identified sooner, the insights allow paramedics to react and coordinate faster.
Apps To Streamline Errors In EMS
According to our analysis, up to 80% of clinical errors are due to miscommunication between medical staff and paramedics. In emergency care, such errors should be minimised as much as possible and new software programmes can help.
Pulsara is the developer of a HIPAA-compliant platform for EMS, ambulance and emergency management. Its connected mobile app allows paramedics to alert an emergency department before arrival with the patient and prepare beforehand. It does so not only by calculating the estimated time of arrival based on GPS but also by allowing users to share important details like the ECG or images from the field. Some studies even report an average decreased treatment time of nearly 30% when using Pulsara.
In-flight medical emergencies are very real and digital health technologies are well-suited for those situations. The free airRx app contains the 23 most common medical emergency situations that guide physicians in-flight to assist travellers experiencing medical concerns. For the cabin crew, the recent MedAire Aviation App connects crew members to physicians for guided patient assessment.
New Age Portable Point-Of-Care Diagnostic Devices
New age pocket-sized, user-friendly and portable diagnostic devices makes it easier and faster to treat a patient on the spot. No matter whether it is ultrasound, ECG or laboratory testing, behemoth machines are things of the past. Nowadays, physicians can literally carry a department’s worth of diagnostic tools in their briefcase.
While some years ago ultrasound diagnosis was the privilege of radiologists, emergency medical specialists now have the opportunity to use bedside point-of-care ultrasound devices (PoCUS) to answer some yes-or-no questions such as intra-abdominal bleeding. Handheld ultrasound devices such as the Clarius and Philips Lumify allow doctors and first responders to easily assess a critically ill patient, no matter where they are.
Drones have great potential in transporting drugs, vaccines or medical aid at a faster rate. In Rwanda, the medical drone company Zipline delivers medical supplies to hospitals via drones as part of the local healthcare system. This method enables healthcare facilities that Zipline serves to receive emergency blood packs within minutes, instead of hours. For the COVID-19 pandemic, Zipline expanded their service in the U.S. to deliver medical supplies and PPE, entirely contactless.
Another potential for drones in the emergency care setting is to deliver automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) directly to people who have just suffered a heart attack. This concept was already explored by researchers in the Netherlands and Canada. AED-carrying drones were also tested in Stockholm with promising results; they arrived at the patient within a quarter of the time that the ambulance took to arrive.
Digital technologies not only help patients receive care more quickly and in a more efficient manner, but they can also support emergency care units to handle situations more safely and more confidently. With the widespread adoption of these tools, critical care patients can receive assistance in a timely manner that wasn’t possible before. And with the emergence of advanced technologies, emergency services will become more efficient and patient-focused in the near future.