Here is an example of the Industrial Internet at work: a network of ambulances, hospitals and emergency rooms in Calabria, southern Italy, is getting a whole lot smarter thanks to a telecardiology system that relays patient information from ambulances directly to hospitals while they are en-route.
Naturally, heart attacks are urgent medical events where every second counts. It is therefore crucial to minimize the time between first contact with emergency services and therapy. For example, in a STEMI (ST-Elevated Myocardial Infarction), one of the more serious forms of heart attack, a treatment known as reperfusion, where the heart’s muscle is re-supplied with blood, is critical. It must be done in the shortest time possible from the heart attack taking place.
Telecardiology is a high-tech medical practice, which uses the power of telecommunications and IT to achieve data sharing in and out of hospital enabling remote diagnosis, and even treatment, of many cardiac emergencies, including coronary heart disease (chronic and acute), as well as arrhythmias, congestive cardiac failure and cardiac arrest. Having an integrated network in place of 32 sites between ambulances, hospitals and other medical centers enables rapid decision making, with proper diagnosis and better patient outcomes from a situation where every fraction of a section is vital.
The telecardiology project was developed by GE Healthcare for the Azienza Sanitaria Provinciale d Cosenza, the Cosenza province’s public healthcare system. It is helping to manage and optimize the entire pathway of care, from initial heart attack right through to discharge from hospital and follow-up. Innovative cardiology information system, like MUSE, allows healthcare professionals to easily manage all of the workflow that surrounds heart attacks.
The system speeds up diagnosis and triage, as patients can be remotely evaluated and given a preliminary diagnosis before they are even in the hospital. What’s more, they can be directed to facilities elsewhere in the region that might be better suited to their needs, if deemed necessary. In Calabria, this platform is already making a huge difference in time to treatment.
Dr Bisignani, Chief of Cardiology Department of Castrovillari and Project Execution Owner, explains “The ultimate goal is to improve the most important statistic for any emergency medical service: increase the number of patients who reach hospital alive. Telecardiology is helping us ensure each patient gets diagnosed and treated as fast and as efficiently as possible.”
Increased access to specialist care, greater efficiency of patient triage and management, less delays and a lower burden on secondary referral hospitals is being felt throughout the healthcare infrastructure. And at a time when healthcare providers are being asked to do more with less, that can only be a good thing.
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