Outdated ambulance technology can delay response times and disrupt emergency communications, putting patients at risk. An upgrade to your legacy technologies can ensure that your ambulance fleet is properly equipped to provide the highest quality EMS care. Breakthroughs in communications and fleet tracking technologies are helping save lives while other innovations, such as power saving devices, are helping health care providers reduce the amount of time their vehicles spend idling. Here are some remarkable ways that ambulance technology is advancing.
Communications technology has come a long way. The days of old fashioned radio communication have been replaced by high-tech wireless networks. Paramedics don’t need to rely on an ambulance radio anymore. Armed with mobile phones, they can do more than just talk to emergency rooms. New mobile apps are making it possible to relay critical patient data to headquarters in real time.
Pulsara is an example of a company that’s turning heads with life-saving applications. Its new Prehospital Alerting Package, allows paramedics to transmit key information to doctors, including vital signs and, more importantly, photos of the patient’s wounds. Doctors can then make the necessary preparations for the patient’s arrival. Paramedics and hospitals can communicate with a secure instant messaging service that is HIPAA-compliant. Using GPS technology, the app provides real time location data and an ETA for the hospital. The Prehospital Alerting Package is free for EMS agencies for those who sign up before April 2017. It is temporarily free for hospitals to sign up, though eventually there will be a fee (contact Pulsara for details). Hospitals can also purchase additional packages that are useful when dealing with stroke and ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) patients. There are other apps like this on the market to choose from, which can be found through an online search.
GPS tracking and remote monitoring technologies are now available which can give healthcare managers incredible power in managing their mobile workforce. GPS tracking not only lets you know where your vehicles are at any given moment, it can help you optimize route management, which, in the end, can save precious minutes in response time. Dispatchers can make note of obstacles (such as construction sites) that can slow ambulances down and relay faster, alternate routes to their drivers.
GPS Insight Standard (from GPS Insight) is an ideal solution for small to medium-sized fleets. Remote sensors and trackers can be installed in ambulances, and with accompanying software, fleet managers can control every aspect of their fleet from any computer or mobile device. Route optimization is only one benefit. GPS Insight’s remote sensors track vehicle diagnostics and provide automated maintenance scheduling. They also allow fleet managers to monitor driving habits. Speeding, for instance, is not only dangerous to the public, they result in higher fuel costs. According to the EPA, each 5mph driven above the speed limit has the effect of spending an extra 20 cents per gallon at the pumps. Having driving data available allows you to work with drivers to cut down on speeding and other poor driving habits. Pricing information for GPS Insight products can be obtained by consulting the vendor. As with communications solutions, there are other vendors on the market to choose from. A browse through trade journals or an online search will give you plenty of options.
A final benefit of GPS tracking is that it can be used to improve billing accuracy and prevent potential disputes. Driving time and distance are recorded with digital accuracy when GPS systems are employed, providing irrefutable evidence where ambulance use is concerned.
Traditional ambulances need to stay running in order to provide power for onboard systems (like ECG units, defibrillators, medical cooling units, etc.). This means that these vehicles spend a lot of time idling. When this happens, fuel is wasted, costing you money and polluting the environment. However, there are emerging technologies that can help you prevent this wasteful practice. The Stealth Power EMS unit, for instance, from Stealth Power, is providing electricity for vehicle heating, lighting, emergency equipment and computers. The unit can be charged from the ambulance while driving, or plugged in at headquarters. Not only does this result in cleaner air for paramedics, patients and the public at large, it can also save money. Research from the Ford Motor Company reveals that an hour of idling is equivalent to 25 miles of driving where fuel use is concerned. Having the option to shut off your ambulances at emergency sites can result in big savings. Interested fleet managers should contact Stealth Power to obtain a quote. Once again, fleet managers would be wise to do some research into the technology as it is constantly evolving. New solutions may appear in the market at any time.
These are exciting times in the health care industry. New technologies are emerging all the time that are providing more options for healthcare providers and making patient’s lives better. EMS services are no exception. If you’re running a fleet of ambulances, it’s a great time to evaluate and upgrade your technology.
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