How two regional health systems used Pulsara to improve communication & deliver better care for critically ill patients

Accurate and timely transfer of information between first responders, emergency medical services (EMS) agencies and hospitals is critical in an emergency situation. When multiple teams and organizations across a region or state need to coordinate patient care, accurate and timely information is even more critical. Both the Colorado Springs and Des Moines regions turned to Pulsara to help streamline communications across their regional healthcare systems, which has resulted in better patient care for those communities.

In a May webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by Pulsara, Kate Leatherby, regional vice president (U.S. West) at Pulsara, moderated a discussion among four healthcare executives. Panelists shared how they successfully brought stakeholders from multiple organizations together to build a regional system of care, what challenges they faced and how they overcame them, change management insights and discoveries and how they enhanced communications across regions and disciplines to improve patient care.

Panelists were:

  • Matt Angelidis, MD, emergency physician, UCHealth (Colo.), medical director, UCHealth EMS, co-medical director, Colorado Springs (Colo.) Fire Department/American Medical Response and co-medical director, Plains to Peaks RETAC
  • Stein Bronsky, MD, co-chief medical director, Colorado Springs (Colo.) Fire Department, co-chief medical director, El Paso County (Colo.) American Medical Response and medical director, El Paso-Teller County (Colo.) 911 Authority
  • Dave Edgar, Board of Directors, Region III, National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, and assistant chief of emergency medical services, City of West Des Moines, Iowa
  • Brian Helland, operations chief, Clive (Iowa) Fire Department and vice president, Central Iowa EMS Directors Association

Three key takeaways were:

1. Poor communication and antiquated systems led to misinformation and delays in transporting and caring for critically ill patients. According to Dr. Bronsky, the Colorado Springs region, which is made up of three health systems, seven facilities and 42 EMS agencies, experienced regular communications errors and delays. "The healthcare system just believed there were limitations that nobody could get over," he said. Dr. Angelidis added that the region had a "long tradition of utilizing things like pagers, faxes and radios. And we realized that we frequently missed very important aspects of the patient's care."

Chief Helland experienced similar issues in the Des Moines region, also serving three health systems with 42 EMS agencies but with 10 facilities. "Each health system had slightly different requirements on how they wanted their critical patients to be delivered," he said. "Those small differences were problematic when trying to deal with more than 2,200 EMS providers."

2. Change management champions must be decision-makers, and stakeholders must stay focused on what's best for the community. Chief Edgar said they quickly realized that they had to engage high-level decision-makers. "We brought them into our group and explained what was going on," he said. "We also brought in some key physicians who were frustrated with some of the processes. It was critical to get the right people at the table."

"One of the absolute staples of our program is our communications committee," Dr. Bronsky said. "We're able to discuss any issues that come along in a non-attacking environment. We're all there for the good of the patients and the good of the community."

3. Pulsara helps regions improve communications between EMS and hospitals, which leads to better patient care. Chief Edgar shared an example of how managing cardiac patients has improved by using Pulsara. "When we first started using 12-lead EKGs in the field, some [physicians] were skeptical about how that would make a difference in patient care," he said. "Now, cardiologists can be connected with those 12-lead cardiac monitors and start calling in team members and making decisions about patient care before we ever get to the hospital."

"We were able to show real, measurable improvement in patient care metrics across multiple service lines, and everybody noticed right away that the errors and delays in communication just disappeared," Dr. Bronsky said. "That is a huge win."

In coordinating emergency care, connecting teams and communication is essential. Solutions such as Pulsara help improve communication and outcomes.

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