911 call centers and ambulances must overhaul their pre-hospital communication systems in order to provide patients with similar consumer communication experiences such as apps like Uber and Lyft, according to University of Michigan researchers.
In an Aug. 5 interview with Ann Arbor-based University of Michigan’s M Health Lab, interventional cardiologist Brahmajee Nallamothu, MD, and Stephen Dowker, emergency medical technician and research analyst, explained how pre-hospital communication systems are undergoing changes to better fit consumer expectations.
“At present, pre-hospital communication systems don’t measure up to consumer equivalents,” they said. “Many 911 centers around the country are operating old technology that just can’t process the same richness of data as consumer devices like location services and video streaming.”
Dr. Nallamothu and Mr. Dowker said there are two tech disruptors currently working to improve the pre-hospital communication process: Next Generation 911, or NG911, and FirstNet. NG911 lays down the infrastructure 911 systems need to collect data streams and will allow centers and pre-hospital providers to tap into information available through devices such as smartphones. FirstNet is a new broadband network geared specifically toward pre-hospital providers and first responders, facilitating communications between individuals such as a paramedic in the field and a physician at the hospital.
Cardiologists and other emergency providers who treat life-threatening conditions can prepare for the so-called “uberization” of hospital communication models by considering ways to integrate new data such as field electrocardiograms, vital signs and even video, into their workflows.
While the researchers don’t anticipate reaching the ideal version of their new communication system for at least another year, they do plan to require “careful implementation of new systems” and gather feedback from all those involved to ensure data privacy concerns are properly addressed.
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