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Launching Oakland County EMS-Hospital Communications into the Future

Oakland County Medical Control Authority enhances pre-hospital communication by replacing their radio system with the e-Bridge mobile telehealth app, launching them into the future of telehealth.

The quality of communication between EMS and hospital teams can make all the difference in patient outcomes. While many EMS systems have embraced modern telemedicine and telehealth technology for sharing patient information with the ED, some still use phone or radio systems. But there is so much more to patient evaluation, preparation, and treatment than audio communication can convey. Voice-only systems only allow EMS to share a fraction of patient information from the field.

In late 2020, the Oakland County Medical Control Authority (OCMCA) in Oakland County, Michigan, decided that to simplify, consolidate and modernize EMS-hospital communications, they needed to transition all their EMS from radio to GD’s mobile telemedicine app, e-Bridge. One of 59 medical control authorities in the state of Michigan, the OCMCA supervises and coordinates the Oakland County EMS system – that’s 50 EMS agencies, 3,000 EMS providers, 15 hospitals, more than 250,000 calls for service each year. 

For the last 25 years, Oakland County EMS has been using the same 800 MHz radios, which were designed for police officer dispatch in the 1980s. Allowing EMS only 30 seconds to relay an audio message to the ED, this method of communication doesn’t function the way EMS needs it to – and it costs $50 million in infrastructure to upgrade. The OCMCA conducted a search for state-of-the-art telehealth solutions for emergency response team communication, and they chose e-Bridge.

“We reached out to all the other vendors that provide any type of communications device like this, and no other company could match what GD had produced with e-Bridge,” said Bonine Kincaid, OCMCA Executive Director. “When a paramedic can show a doctor a patient, and even have the doc talk to the patient, the care is greatly enhanced – everything from strokes to refusals.”

The OCMCA has encouraged all regional hospitals and medical control authority EMS agencies to participate in an Electronic Communications special study to start using e-Bridge for stroke, STEMI, trauma, and general medical alerts. With each agency that has joined, word of mouth has spread that replacing radios with e-Bridge for all pre-hospital communications is the most efficient and effective solution for the OCMCA. 

By enabling HIPAA-secure sharing of pictures, audio, video, and live streaming, as well as providing audio and visual alerts and notifications with real-time ETA tracking and 12-lead management from any monitor, e-Bridge supports EMS and hospital teams in their efforts to provide the best possible patient care. e-Bridge is fully configurable and scalable, allowing users to customize an interface tailored to their needs.

“While some vendors could do parts of what e-Bridge could do, no one could do it all,” said Kincaid. “In particular, with GD, the ability to design our own forms and have what we want on the screen pop up is so valuable.”

A year later, every hospital in the county is now set up to receive communication via e-Bridge, many through GD’s CAREpoint Workstation, which integrates seamlessly with e-Bridge. About 40 of the 50 EMS agencies in Oakland County use e-Bridge and by the end of the year, the goal is to get all 50 to start. Two other counties in Michigan – McComb and St. Claire – have now joined the OCMCA, allowing for clear and reliable communication across county lines. 

“e-Bridge allows a true and complete collaboration between the EMS provider and the ER physician working in the facility,” said Glenn Garwood, Trauma Program Director at Ascension Providence Rochester Hospital. “And what that collaboration supports is not only interpersonal connection but also the collaborative approach to patient care, which ultimately benefits the patient.”

The results?

  • Telehealth for treat in place, ET3 and MIH-CP 
  • Better preparedness for incoming patients 
  • Quicker and more efficient patient hand-off
  • Faster time-to-treatment
  • Real-time communication of case to entire team 
  • Cost and time savings on activations for stroke, STEMI and trauma 
  • Easy data and outcomes reporting

“e-Bridge is our solution to the antiquated 800 MHz radio systems in Michigan,” Kincaid continued. “But it’s not just about radios. It’s about changing the way we communicate with the hospitals and how patients benefit. This is changing patient care for the better.”

News of e-Bridge is traveling fast throughout Michigan, most recently with Kincaid’s e-Bridge presentation at the Medical Control Authority Conference, which was attended by hundreds across the state. The OCMCA looks forward to getting more and more EMS agencies, hospitals, and counties on board, and has even provided user guides for EMS and hospitals. 

Hear more from Kincaid on the EMS on AIR podcast and watch the OCMCA’s e-Bridge training video for a behind-the-scenes look at e-Bridge.

To learn how you can enhance your EMS-hospital communication through GD’s mobile telehealth solutions, visit https://general-devices.com/contact-us/.

About GD (General Devices)


GD is a NJ-based med tech company specializing in mobile telemedicine and telehealth solutions that help EMS and fire first responders, hospitals, and communities and regions deliver smarter, expedient patient care. Powered by responsive innovation, GD’s user-friendly solutions facilitate secure, mobile communications and rapid data sharing across acute and non-acute care teams to help save time, money and lives. Backed by a 40+ year history and thousands of implementations, GD is a widely revered industry leader. Visit https://general-devices.com/ to learn more. 

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