Connecting Rural Care Providers: GD’s e-Bridge™ system helps EMS share critical information quickly and securely with distant doctors and hospitals.
When the nearest hospital is miles away, advanced communications can shorten the distance between the patient and lifesaving care.
Matt Tatum, MA, NREMT-P, FF, Director of Public Safety for Henry County, VA, knows this first-hand. This led to emergency services in his rural community using the GD e-Bridge™ system. Often, he said, “When we pick up the patient and get them to the ambulance, we’re still 20 or 25 minutes from the closest hospital.”
With the e-BridgeTM system, EMS crews can send secure text, photos, videos, ECGs and other data from the scene to the hospital emergency department. “It allows the ED to be more prepared for what’s coming in,” he said.” We’ve had cases where they have started the transfer process, so that when the patient comes to the local hospital, they do as much as they can to stabilize the patient, but the transfer process is already initiated to send them to a more specialized facility.”
In other cases, Tatum said, the ED physician has used the system to alert a cardiologist, who was at the hospital when the patient arrived. And the ability to send video clips has allowed EMS teams to get a physicians’ input when assessing patients for stroke or other conditions.
Tatum said the e-Bridge™ system also helps improve care in a community that relies on a combination of career and volunteer EMS services. “A lot of our volunteers are EMT basic trained only,” he said. “When they get that critical patient, the career departments will bring them a paramedic if they need it. With the e-BridgeTM system, the EMT can send images or messages to the paramedic before he or she gets on scene.”
It’s also helpful that the technology requires minimal training. “It operates like an app on your phone or tablet,” said Tatum. The difference, though, is that e-Bridge™ is secure and HIPAA-compliant. Photos and videos taken with e-Bridge™ aren’t stored in the device’s photo album, and users can only share them within their private network.
Another advantage for Tatum’s community is the compatibility with the varied 12-lead technology used among nine first-responder agencies in the region. “The GD product is universal. It works with any of them,” said Tatum.
Thanks to the new FirstNet cellular service, e-Bridge will now be able to allow communication in rural areas that do not typically have service. FirstNet is the new and secure service that all first responders will be communicating on. FirstNet plans to establish cellular service in even the most rural areas, in order to provide efficient communication with all first responders on the FirstNet network.
Plans are still in their early stages, but Tatum foresees it as a way to extend care into the community through both scheduled patient visits and non-life-threatening 911 calls. “If a patient has a question and they would feel better hearing the answer coming from a physician or a nurse rather than the paramedic, we can video conference with e-Bridge and have a live consultation going on,” he said. “Our intention is to basically carry the emergency room to the patient, instead of the patient to the emergency room.”