Emergency medical specialists at the West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS) in Pittsburgh think it can, and today they will introduce a first-of-its-kind smart phone application developed specifically for that purpose.
Called the EMS Field Partner and designed for use by emergency medical services (EMS) professionals and other first responders, the app is now available free of charge through the Apple Store. It was conceptualized by EMS professionals at WPAHS and developed by Ritter Technologies of Dingolfing, Germany.
Among its various unique capabilities, the new app features a patient triage system in which users can select from a variety of emergency conditions or complaints – such as chest pain, stroke symptoms or fall injury, etc. – and be directed to the closest WPAHS hospital that is most qualified to treat the patient.
The app connects EMS professionals to all of West Penn Allegheny’s hospital emergency department medical command physicians around the clock, and through an interface with Google maps, provides not only directions to the System’s hospitals, but up to the minute traffic information as well.
A direct link to West Penn Allegheny’s LifeFlight Command Center also allows users to more swiftly summon a medical helicopter. The app’s built in global positioning system provides LifeFlight dispatchers with the exact location of the EMS crew.
It all adds up to helping first responders provide more expeditious and effective care for their patients, said Thomas Campbell, MD, Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at WPAHS.
“Innovative smart phone applications are being pioneered almost daily as organizations and businesses strive to be leaders in their respective markets. It occurred to us that if any industry could truly benefit from this technology it’s the field of emergency medical care, where timely information and interaction between healthcare professionals can be the difference between life and death for someone who has suffered a health emergency,” Dr. Campbell said.
Although most fully functional when used on the iPhone, the EMS Field Partner app is also highly compatible with the iTouch and iPad devices. Certain functions of the EMS Field Partner will require registration to verify appropriate EMS certification or licensure. Registration is also free and takes less than one minute.
West Penn Allegheny officials say plans for future enhancements to the app are already underway.
“As the technology advances, we will continue to incorporate new elements into the product. The possibilities are really exciting looking into the future,” said Jeff Polana, Director, Pre-Hospital Operations at Alle-Kiski Medical Center. Mr. Polana conceptualized the EMS Field Partner app last year after meeting representatives from Ritter Technology at a conference.
Among other current components of the app include detailed information about each WPAHS hospital and important staff contact information, access to West Penn Allegheny’s calendar of education programs and events for the EMS community and updated, easily accessible Pennsylvania advanced life support and basic life support protocols.