Ambulance crews in England to use iPads to assess accident and stroke victims
Paramedics will send pictures to specialist hospital doctors for rapid diagnosis
Ambulance crews will start using iPads to send photographs of accident and stroke victims to specialist hospital doctors so that they can make rapid diagnoses and save some patients a trip to A&E.
NHS England is giving 30,000 iPads to regional ambulance services to help paramedics decide what care to give and whether to take someone to hospital or treat them at the scene.
The tablet computers will be a vital link between ambulance crews and hospital consultants, whose digital interaction will make treatment faster and better, NHS England said.
For example, the devices will let paramedics show an A&E department how badly injured patients have been in a road traffic crash, so that they can prepare for their arrival. They will also allow crews access to patients’ medical records to help them build a better picture of their health.
“Ambulance crews have been at the forefront of the pandemic, routinely dealing with life-and-death situations and often first on scene to treat and diagnose critically ill patients,” said Sir Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive. “These devices are another tool for our highly skilled paramedics and ambulance technicians as they continue to respond to the country’s most critically ill and injured patients.”
Stevens will announce the distribution of the 30,000 iPads in a speech on Tuesday to the Ambulance Leadership Forum. He will hail it as “another example of the health service innovating and harnessing technology to improve patient care as part of the NHS Long Term Plan”.
It is part of an ongoing effort to give NHS staff who work in community settings mobile devices and ways of connecting remotely with colleagues in hospitals.
Ambulance crew with the South East Coast Ambulance service already use tablets to video-call consultants when they are treating suspected stroke victims. The doctors then advise the paramedics how best to look after the person until they reach hospital and are taken to the stroke unit.
“The iPads are proving invaluable in assisting our clinicians in the rapid identification of stroke patients to expedite their treatment and help identify the most appropriate clinical pathway,” said Dr Fionna Moore, the service’s medical director. She said it was like “bringing local experts into the back of an ambulance via FaceTime”.
“These tablets will give paramedics an extra edge,” said Matthew Gould, the chief executive of NHSX, the health service’s technology agency, which is paying for the 30,000 devices.