On March 12, 2009, the City of Baton Rouge (BR), Louisiana initiated its state-of-the-art “BR Med-Connect” EMS Telemedicine program with an inauguration event attended by the Mayor, East Baton Rouge Parish EMS Personnel, and physicians and administrators from Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. BR Med-Connect will provide 2-way voice, video and data that will link paramedics in the field with physicians at the hospital to allow the physicians to see and speak with patients and review vital signs data including 12-Lead ECGs.
BR Med-Connect is slated for deployment by BR’s 21 ambulance fleet and 6 area hospitals. During an initial pilot phase, one BR EMS ambulance and the ED in Our Lady of the Lake Hospital (OLOL) will be fully equipped and made operational. The pilot phase will be used to test and refine the system, examine applications, and develop user-protocols. Once the pilot phase is complete, BR Med-Connect will be expanded to the entire fleet and include Baton Rouge General Medical Center, Oshner’s Hospital, Lane Memorial Hospital, Woman’s Hospital and Earl K. Long Hospital.
The system consists of a General Devices’ e-Bridge EMS Telemedicine System comprised of a CAREpoint EMS Workstation in the OLOL ED and a Rosetta-VC Controller in the ambulance. Using a remotely controlled camera and voice activated microphone array in the patient compartment, the distant physician will be able to see and speak with the patient. Vital sign data, including 12-Lead ECGs, will be sent from a ZOLL E-Series monitor. The CAREpoint Workstation not only serves as the telemedicine system control point, but will also be used for all day-to-day EMS activities. Connectivity between the ambulance and the hospital is provided by a Tropos MESH Broadband Wireless system and an EVDO Cellular system. The mesh is already deployed in an 8 sq mile region in the city’s downtown area. With its 1 MBS data rate, it will be able to support high-quality video in addition to the other system functions. Outside the downtown area the EVDO cellular system will provide high-speed wireless connectivity over the 462 sq miles of East Baton Rouge Parish. Because the EVDO system has a lower data capacity it is expected that video quality will be reduced but that all other functions will perform normally. To provide optimal functionality throughout the entire Parish the city is embarking on a plan to extend the mesh throughout its entire jurisdiction.
The system is unique in many ways, the first of which is the implementation of a new method of attaching patient identification information to the 12-Lead ECG. This tagging system will work with all of the commonly used field monitors and is an important feature to help avoid confusion as to who the 12-Lead belongs to. The second important unique feature is the way the CAREpoint Workstations will be networked once they are fully deployed in the region. By networking the workstations, information can flow smoothly and freely among the participating hospitals to assist in such things as patient transports and disaster related events. Once operational, rather than having to make a telephone call to a receiving hospital to “voice” over pertinent patient information, the system will provide an electronic means of doing this at the push of a button and with full assurance of receipt, traceability and accountability. The third unique feature will be an effort to begin to link the complete prehospital care record in to the hospital’s EMR.
BR Med-Connect will be used to meet a wide range of prehospital care needs including STEMI programs, early stroke assessment, trauma and pediatric care, as well as many day-to-day EMS and disaster-related applications. According to Dr. Cullen Hebert, one of the principal proponents of the system, “This system provides excellent audio/visual quality and data management capabilities in the prehospital setting, important to the patient, the EMT, and the physician. But this is not the only aspect of this system that is impressive. The staff at General Devices is working closely with us to improve the overall process of patient data flow from the field and into the hospital with interface developments that will allow our hospital systems to obtain critical patient data needed to improve and expedite patient care. While we are working with one hospital at this time, plans are to expand this process to all hospitals in East Baton Rouge Parish. This will result in a level of coordination that is practically unheard of at this time. I am very pleased with the performance of the telemedicine system, but, equally important, I am impressed with the people in this company. Telemedicine is not only about technology, it is about people developing a process to utilize that technology. I couldn’t be more satisfied with the commitment General Devices has made to help us develop our telemedicine system.”
EMS Assistant Administrator
The project manager for BR Med-Connect, Mr. Chad Guillot, says: “This is a very exciting time for our department. The General Devices’ products will allow us to accomplish a new level of collaboration with all of our area hospitals and will strengthen the teamwork that exists between our paramedics and physicians. The e-Bridge System is a powerful tool with one of its strongest features being its ease of use. This is very important to us as it allows our paramedics to send useful video and data to physicians without interfering with critical patient care.”
For more information:
Curt Bashford, V.P., General Devices, 201-313-7075, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chad Guillot, EMS Assistant Administrator, (225) 202-0795
Don Evan, IT Director, City of Baton Rouge, (225) 389-3070
Susan Boudreaux, Mayor’s Office, (225) 389-5101
*Content carried over from prior GD website: Published dates may not be accurate.