UnityPoint Health improves patient care with technology

Once upon a time, when an ambulance from UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown responded to a cardiac emergency, it required multiple devices and individualized processes, which cost valuable time.

Times have changed with technology, and a unique radio system from RACOM in Marshalltown, has now improved patient care and created a more efficient process.

Originally, each Marshalltown ambulance required an encrypted wi-fi “hot spot”, which was connected to a laptop, a USB modem for the cardiac monitor, and a cellphone. Now, using an XL-200 radio as the hot spot, the ambulance service has eliminated the previous three devices.

In the new setup, a single radio is assigned to each cardiac monitor crews can transmit electrocardiogram results directly to an emergency department physician.

“As this information pertains to the management of patients with acute heart attack, ‘time is muscle,'” said Dr. Lance VanGundy, ER physician and medical director at UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown. “This means the sooner we receive notification, the sooner we can prepare to administer life-saving treatment and lessen the risk of serious adverse outcomes from heart attack. Step 1 in this process is notification pre-hospital from EMS and the ability to review the EKG data.”

Sending the results in a streamlined fashion helps confirm the medical interpretation of the paramedic provider and can trigger an alert in the ER for serious heart attack. The alert is especially helpful because it initiates an expedited process intended to get the patient in and out of the ER in 30 minutes or less.

“Having immediate access to a data transfer platform not only allows our EMS providers the ability to transmit time-critical information to the receiving facility, it also allows the facility’s staff the ability to compare old patient information like EKGs to the current EKG, providing all healthcare providers a better picture of the patients health background,” said Nick Heintz, manager of Emergency Management Services at UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown. “This allows providers to have a more guided treatment plan specific the patient’s needs before they arrive at the hospital.”


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