THE PROBLEM is that over 200 000 emergency medical services (EMS - Ambulance and Emergency Room) staff in the EU alone are under extreme workload during the COVID-19 pandemic, do get infected and possibly unknowingly spread the virus. Each emergency call patient or incoming patient could be COVID-19 infected. EMS staff capacity is very limited. Most infections of health care staff at work are due to breaking the decontamination rules or not using protective gear properly.
In the crisis, it appeared that the guidelines on decontamination and protective wear usage:
- are plenty;
- change over time;
- change with the severity of crisis;
- differ organizationally, locally, regionally and nationally;
- do not include audiovisual step-by-step guidelines;
- cannot be learned by heart;
- cannot be read from text manuals on paper or from computers;
- cannot be always reprinted;
- cannot be easily followed.
This results in
- delayed response for using the gear the right way;
- possible infections of health care workers in EMS;
- possible spread of the virus by health care workers;
- even decreased availability of health care services.
We are a team of digital health entrepreneurs with backgrounds in academia, Ambulance and Hospital, developing decontamination and protective gear usage audiovisual guidelines that can be centrally managed as they change, localized and language-adjusted; controlled and used by individual staff members through screens (TV/smartphone) and audio (audio commands and Bluetooth headset); at hospital/station or on the go. We need ambulance and emergency services departments to join, customize and pilot the solution.
What it does
WE WILL protect EMS staff from getting infected or unknowingly spreading the disease by providing actionable decontamination and protective gear usage guidelines! We will transform the current text guidelines to easily manageable audio-video-based and –controlled, centrally managed guidelines: easy to follow, implement, control and update smoothly.
The EMS Solutions team provides decontamination guidelines controlled by university, hospital and ambulance services. They are realized on centrally managed Cognuse technology platform for easy localization and language control. We will enable audiovisual guidance on decontamination-proof smartphones and TV screens at emergency rooms or ambulance stations, in multi-person rooms or on the go Bluetooth headsets will be used (voice-command-controlled) to play, stop, replay or continue guidelines.
This way all EMS using our system in the EU will have certified, continuously and commonly updated most recent guidelines with no extra local effort, the guidelines are easy to operate and available in a user-friendly format.
How I built it
We built a simple yet elegant voice-guided tool, a mobile application, for improving quality and driving better adherence to the critical protocols. It is seamlessly integrated into the standard workflow to help ensure procedural protocols, guidelines, and checklists are followed each and every time by EMS staff. The application runs on the smartphone and by wearing a Bluetooth headset, it is ensured that the user-experience is entirely hands-free, aligning with decontamination, hygiene and infection control measures.
Challenges I ran into
Our primary technological challenges are concerned with robust speech recognition and user testing in full personal protective equipment (PPE) settings, the testing of which we will continue post-hackathon.
From a scaling perspective we will need to develop an authoritative content source that new EMS sites can accept in various countries and EMS cultures. We will continue to engage with more partners as we go along to achieve this.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
During the hackathon we were able to accomplish the goals that we set for ourselves, namely identifying new and promising partners across the EU to further scale our solutions with. We are happy that EMS and business professionals from Greece, Romania, Germany and the USA supported us throughout the weekend, gave valuable insights into their past experiences and regional/country aspects to how guidelines are being distributed and what are the challenges around adherence.
What I learned
We were able to come together as a remote team with a lot of _ ad hoc _ support and tackle the challenges and goals that we set for ourselves effectively, one by one, documenting the experiences and really vastly improving the concept itself and the product road map going forward. We feel like we actually gained energy during the hackathon and hopefully established partnerships that can take us to the next level faster than anticipated.
What's next for EMS Solutions
We will pilot and validate the solution at Tartu Ambulance and then localize in as many countries as possible, starting from Germany, Spain and Greece, with confirmed interest and continue to the USA and UK per our existing relationships.
Investment is sought to localize languages by country, validate protocol in every EU country, scale up. Possibly EU pilot project investment could make the service available in all EU countries at a relatively low cost, as protocols are standard. When pilots are implemented in each country, EMS organizations take up of the service can be rapid, at a very low cost. EU quality stamp and co-financing may help in market uptake.
We will continue with the preparation and submission of the EIT Health CAMPUS project (already in stage 2) to develop the AR/VR simulation training modules for the platform! This will also support sustainability and use in other health care areas than emergency medical services.