Emergency Health Care Improved by Innovative App

(3BL Media and Just Means)- "One picture is worth a thousand clinical words," said Crystal Law, MIT Alumna, former EMT and Co-Founder of Twiage.

The Cambridge, MA based start-up, an app called Twiage, is dramatically improving communications between EMTs and emergency rooms. Its mission is to improve communication between pre-hospital and hospital teams so that patients can have better care.  Ex-EMT Law told me that the idea for the app came to be as she was continually waiting around for health-care providers during emergency situations.

"I was passively thinking about the inconsistencies between EMTs and physicians for a long time. Providers would unbearably come a couple of minutes late [to the emergency department] and I would have to keep catching them up: so many details about medical information, allergies, medical history and exact details in the events gets lost. For example, in one hospital we visited, the job of one nurse wasto determine if a patient can considered acute. This nurse only needed particular information because she just wanted to treat the patient. However, nurses down the line want the detailed information, too, but by then, we [the EMTs] were gone. This type of situation happened a lot. Sometimes I would wait around to tell everyone my story. But if an EMT isn't available to provide details, health care providers usually keep asking patients over and over again what happened."

Law compared the current communication process between EMTs and emergency departments to the game of 'telephone.'

"Right now, when I have a critical patient, I use an archaic, stone-age radio system. I talk to an operator and tell them where I’m going. They connect me to a channel of the hospital. I have to wait for the hospital to pick up a landline telephone. There's usually static so I have to keep it short, a 30-second report. Usually, we over-estimate our location and time of arrival because we don't know how fast we can go. Then, when we arrive, the nurse has to tell the physician what's going on. Then the physician notifies trauma teams, catheter lab teams, surgery, medical techs, residents, anyone else they want to consult.  The 30-second report from the EMT is communicated down the line. Imagine the inaccuracy!"

Twiage's value proposition is the immediate transfer of details to one, centralized location. Designed by software-guru, John Rodley, the Twiage app makes the handoff of information from the EMT to the emergency department seamless. While in the ambulance, the EMT uses the Twiage app to take a picture of the patient and one picture of the EKG that displays the vital signs of the patient.

"One picture is worth a thousand, clinical words. It’s so much more valuable. Health care providers are trained to see the patient," explained Law.

The app also includes an optional, voice memo to be used to explain a report of the patient and additionalnarration of the events. The EMT then clicks a button to send the photos and narration to a particular hospital that goes to Emergency Department side on a Twiage dashboard. This information is displayed on a large-flat screen TV in a centralized location.

"Our goal is to make hand-off seamless. We [EMTs] come to the hospital and they [emergency departments] already know how to care for the patient. Patient care is no longer delayed because of communication issues. There’s no more waiting around, no more health care providers trying to catch each other up because they already know what's happening."

YiDing Yu, physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Alumna, and Co-Founder of Twiage understands the physician side of the telephone and is designing tags that will streamline the communication process. The goal of Twiage is to make it easy for the EMT to make a couple of taps, quickly painting a picture of the patient to mobilize an Emergency Department.

"Then they [health care providers] know how to prepare for the patient.  For example, they know that the EMT has already intubated them and that they don't need that equipment.  If they see the EKG they can know what’s working in the ambulance and what’s not and be better prepared for procedures. It doesn't need to be a guessing game."

Hospitals will pay Twiage an annual subscription fee to use the app. Law thinks it will be well worth it.

"The ED needs info fast, quick, to the point. Any communication issues between the EMT and the physician causes risk to the patient. Twiage will standardize that. There will be no doubt on the needed care," Law passionately explained.

Although Twiage is not yet live, they are in partnership to pilot with a major hospital south of Boston and a private ambulance company. They have obtained HIPPA compliance and have just won three months of mentorship with Blue Print Health in New York City who is currently providing them with three months of mentorship and $20,000 in seed funding to accelerate their work. They are looking for investors and hope that within a month to be on the app market.

Read here to learn more about their work: Twiage