LewisGale First to Implement New Cloud-Based Technology to Communicate Lifesaving Information Between ERs and EMS Staff

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Scenes from the 2017Kappa Alpha Order's 77th Convention in St. Louis, Mo. (David Hungate for Kappa Alpha Order)

LewisGale Regional Health System is using a new real-time, cloud-based communication network and mobile app technology to communicate lifesaving information between its four hospitals and emergency medical services (EMS) in the field.

The system is the first and only one of its kind in Southwest Virginia, enabling ER physicians to diagnose in real time a life-threatening event such as a stroke, heart attack/arrest, shock, or sepsis before the patient arrives at the hospital. It also enables the ER to activate the appropriate healthcare team to begin administering immediate, appropriate, and life-saving care as soon as the patient arrives, further increasing the odds of a successful recovery.

When seconds matter in the diagnosing and treatment of patients suffering from critical injuries or illnesses, the real-time communication allowing EMS to notify emergency department staff with the tap of a button on a smart phone eliminates time-consuming emails, paper, and multiple phone calls for the transmission of data while simultaneously facilitating care in the field and during patient transport to the hospital.

“EMS plays a vital role in improving care for these patients, and we’ve known for some time that patients with life-threatening conditions receive faster treatment when EMS activate the appropriate hospital team from the field,” said Steven Pasternak, MD, emergency department medical director at LewisGale Medical Center. “This new, cloud-based, mobile technology further decreases the amount of time it takes to communicate vital data and activate hospital teams compared to traditional methods of communication between ERs and EMS. For example, if a patient has had a suspected cardiac event, the EKG administered by EMS in the field can be transmitted in real-time to the hospital, which enables the hospital to be ready to perform, if necessary, a cardiac catheterization procedure to open blocked arteries as soon as the patient arrives.”

Case studies conducted over a three-year period found significant reductions in the amount of time it takes to open blocked arteries or administer tPA for strokes when EMS alerted hospital teams from the field compared to team activation once the patient arrives at the hospital, including a:

  • 33-minute reduction in door-to-needle time for stroke patients
  • 59 percent decrease in average door-to-needle time for stroke patients receiving tPA
  • 25 percent improvement in cases meeting the American Heart Association’s “90-minute or less door-to-balloon time” guideline to open blocked arteries for heart attack/arrest patients

“We have been working hand-in-hand with our EMS partners for the past couple of months on training and trial runs of this new technology, and are very excited to now have this lifesaving technology available in the communities we serve,” said Rick Konstance, MD, LewisGale’s chief of interventional cardiology.