Ambulances Access Multiple Wireless Nets, Speed Up Patient Care
The In Motion technology reportedly improved pre-hospital patient care by improving dispatch times and reducing mobile data communications costs.
Aware that their ambulances could become traveling emergency rooms, the Richmond, Virginia, Ambulance Authority (RAA) installed a wireless communications system several months ago provided by In Motion Technology. The system was designed to help ambulance paramedics access and disseminate patient information while ambulances were underway whether to pick up a patient or to transport a patient to a hospital.
In an announcement Tuesday, the RAA said the In Motion technology, which can access different wireless networks while ambulances race to their destinations, had not only improved pre-hospital patient care by improving dispatch times, but had also brought about a 50 percent reduction in mobile data communications costs.
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A spokeswoman for In Motion said the firm's "little black box" has been fitted with communications cards that enable ambulances to access a variety of wireless networks from satellite links and Wi-Fi hot spots to cell phone and UMTS networks. The system can even connect with some private IP networks operated by companies.
"We have seen an improvement in overall response times," said Jerry Overton, RAA's executive director, in a statement. "We now have a communications platform that will allow us to quickly and easily deploy future technology solutions to our paramedics ... Our paramedics no longer worry about IT issues and can get on with the task of saving lives."
In setting up the system, the RAA was confronted with a series of challenges -- the exact location of ambulances was needed for rapid dispatching, drivers were expending valuable seconds studying paper maps, and response time had to be shortened to seconds. The RAA also asked for a system that would supply up-to-date patent records and the records must be HIPAA-compliant and encrypted.
In Motion's onBoard Mobile Gateway Manager pinpoints vehicle location while it monitors the status of different wireless networks. The technology has enabled new features to be introduced including Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) and Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL).
The RAA said the In Motion deployment reduced the need for end-user intervention, while improving driver safety and overall response times.
Looking ahead, the RAA and In Motion view the Richmond application and other similar deployments as harbingers of a shift from providing simple ambulance transportation to providing mobile IT that can be valuable in patient care.