Ambulance services play an intricate role in responding to medical emergencies. The explosion of digital technologies opens a wide range of opportunities for emergency medical services (EMS) to provide faster and better services across the entire emergency medical services continuum of care. In this blog, we look at what lies ahead in next-generation EMS and how managed Unified Communications and SD-WAN can play a significant role in improving collaboration and network performance for communications, dispatching and coordinated response.
Is Your Ambulance Service Ready for the Future?
In a 2015 research paper, Emerging Digital Technologies in Emergency Medical Services: Considerations and Strategies to Strengthen the Continuum of Care, the study took a look into the overall impact that digital technologies, big data, medical devices and software applications could have on EMS and their influence on how EMS and 9-1-1 systems might operate in the year 2020 and beyond. To illustrate a future vision of an EMS episode, a scenario was given (based on 2013 terminology).
Joe’s wife notified 9-1-1 using a voice activated Internet Protocol (IP) based Next Generation 9-1-1 home monitoring device that allowed the public safety answering point (PSAP) operator to quickly identify the geographic positioning system (GPS) location of the caller, place the location on a digital map, query Joe’s chief complaint, pull his recent health history along with his most recent electrocardiogram (ECG) from his primary care physician’s electronic health record (EHR) system, and send it forward to the nearest available and appropriate EMS crew for dispatch.
The driver of the dispatched ambulance crew used the automated onboard route guidance system to direct the shortest, fastest, and safest route. Intelligent mapping technologies were also used to assess landscape characteristics of the destination location to predetermine ideal vehicle placement. The responding paramedic, using mobile smartphone devices and an on-board tablet computing device, was able to view Joe’s (age 60) patient history, his recent ECG, and query additional patient information through the community Health Information Exchange (HIE). Upon arrival, the paramedic used her own integrated, data-enabled portable diagnostic device to assess carbon monoxide levels, obtain a new ECG reading, as well as Joe’s vitals. A mobile smartphone app was also used to translate Joe’s Russian language to English. All data was accumulated in an integrated, web-based patient care record system.
Today, digital technologies have achieved or even surpassed expectations. Other technologies are still emerging. But a common thread in this scenario is clear: Can your current WAN network meet the demand of future ambulance services where everything is connected … mobile devices, interactive and interoperable databases, and secure wireless broadband networks? Are your systems capable of emergency equipment interoperability to communication between branch offices, agencies and jurisdictions via voice, data or video in real time? All of this will require higher bandwidth, faster speeds and secure connections.
Unified Communications with SD-WAN – A Winning Combination to Increase Network Reliability and Interoperability.
Ambulance services today are teaming with trusted managed services providers (MSP) to provide the digital infrastructure backbone needed for reliable network performance and interoperability. Managed Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) with software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) play a key role to affordably interconnect ambulance teams and separate offices to an enterprise-class cloud network for reliable communications.
With UCaaS and SD-WAN managed by a team of certified engineers, you can expect:
- Multiple Channel Collaboration – Integrate phone, instant messaging, video conferencing and voicemail applications together onto one unified, cloud platform. You’ll be able to easily share files, make video calls or chat with a click of the mouse. You’ll see a noticeable boost in employee productivity using collaboration tools that integrate mobile devices with desktop functions.
- Anywhere, Anytime Communications – Connect with employees and other first responders from the road, at any branch office or anywhere your emergency response takes you. You’ll be able to improve coordinated response between hospitals, police, fire, and public safety agencies in any jurisdiction via voice, data or video in real time.
- Network Reliability and Performance – With SD-WAN, enjoy “always on” connectivity, better bandwidth availability and high-quality voice reception. Managed service providers continuously monitor your WAN traffic, day and night, and correct struggling traffic connections by routing to a better connection without a session drop. This way, you are ensured reliable uptime and network performance.
- Business Continuity – If your ambulance service locations lose power or internet connection, built-in redundancies allow calls to automatically forward to pre-determined numbers or locations to ensure no disruptions. This is critical when responding to emergency calls around the clock.
- Cyber Intrusion Protection – With trained engineers watching your network day and night, your data is secure and protected from data breaches or cyber threats. They will proactively monitor traffic flows, respond to alerts and secure your network in real time.
Communications is at the heart of ambulance transportation services. Ambulance first responders require swift and reliable communications between police, fire, hospitals and public safety agencies as well as various jurisdictions. Anywhere, anytime communications via voice, data or mobile in real time rely on high-performing, integrated communication systems. Partnering with a trusted managed services provider utilizing UCaaS with SD-WAN provides the digital infrastructure needed to amplify the impact of emergency medical service delivery.
Need help in unifying your multi-branch ambulance service locations for better collaboration? Learn more by downloading our free Unified Communications and SD-WAN minibooks. Or schedule a consultation with our experts.
Mike Penn joined Magna5 as Senior Content Developer. His role is to bring to life stories that inspire or inject clarity in how managed services and emerging trends can be applied to help organizations operate better and more efficiently.