The Council of Ambulance Authorities (CAA) International Congress took place in Auckland from 6 – 9 August. If you did not attend, read on to find out what happened:
While all of the congress plenary sessions were interesting in their own right, two were absolute standouts that really resonated with me.
First was the keynote speech from public health advocate Dr Lance O’Sullivan, Supreme Maori of the Year (2013) and New Zealander of the Year (2014).
With paramedics being the most trusted professionals, Dr O’Sullivan said that they were in a unique position to help spread the word and encourage innovation.
He urged them to challenge the status quo and to make a difference by supporting and advocating disruptive technological innovations. For example:
Dr O’Sullivan concluded by saying that we all need to make things happen, not just talk about action. He said the industry needed to be willing to accept a degree of risk to achieve improved patient outcomes, and told listeners that there is no need to ‘build a Ferrari’ right away – it’s fine to start small as long as you give it a try.
The second was the speech from Peter Bradley, the CAA Chair and also CEO of St John Ambulance New Zealand.
He spoke about the need to strive for a culture of excellence and avoid complacency by continuing to Share, Learn and Partner. It is vital to move our focus away from the stuff of yesterday (SOY), to tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.
As befitting a conference themed ‘The Patient: At the centre of everything we do’, there was a lot of emphasis on improving patient outcomes and saving lives.
Some of the conversations I heard proposed more community involvement to shift from regarding engagements as transactional to more patient-centric.
There were also calls to positively promote what paramedics are doing and celebrating their contribution, so as to increase community confidence and trust, plus improve staff morale.
The trends of an ageing population and increasing life expectancy were also discussed.
There is a 4.6% p.a. growth in the number of patients compared to a 1.5% p.a. growth in the general population, meaning that there is a need to predict, plan and adapt to a growing demand from older patients. This requires changing service models to incorporate local or community solutions and new technological innovations, such as telemedicine.
Tech enthusiasts would have had a fantastic time checking out the latest innovations for ambulance services.
Given the consensus that rapid response, analysis of patient condition (e.g. stroke, cardiac arrest) and application of targeted pre-hospital care during the first 60 minutes (‘the golden hour’) significantly improves outcomes, it’s no surprise that technology and connected devices were hot topics.
There were virtual reality (VR) goggles for paramedic training of at-scene CPR, an automatic CPR device that could recalibrate if it detected a broken rib and defibrillator simulators.
The latter allows for heart waveforms to be displayed on an iPad and a simulation stethoscope heartbeat.
I also found the award-winning ACT-FAST (Ambulance Clinical Triage for Acute Stroke Treatment) clinical triage algorithm very interesting. It is a unique tool to detect patients with the most severe form of stroke and triage them to appropriate treatment more easily and quickly.
It was designed by a team of Melbourne researchers in conjunction with Ambulance Victoria.
My colleagues James Wetherall (Business Manager) and Scott Winks (Managing Director – ANZ & ASEAN) had the privilege of presenting to senior leaders in the ambulance services of Australia and New Zealand. Here is a quick summary of their talk:
Intelligent Information and the Patient Journey
Data and information that is pertinent to the patient journey often resides in different systems or even organisations.
For example, ambulances rushing to scene may not have connectivity to traffic lights because their on-board computers do not integrate to the traffic system. Recommended dosages for certain drugs may be updated in a handbook, but this information is not reflected in the vehicle.
However, you can connect and enable the flow of intelligent information throughout the patient journey with a fully-connected technology solution and the right communications hubs.
This has the potential to not just connect paramedics on the road to the right information in real time, but even other parts of the health system like hospitals and emergency departments.
By connecting all these stakeholders and systems, ambulance services will be empowered to make better decisions at critical points in the patient journey.
There is a definite change in culture looming, with patient-centric service delivery and calls to embrace new technologies forming the core theme of not just the CAA Congress, but also conversations I had with various ambulance service leaders throughout the event.
It is clear that many ambulance services are interested in more connectivity and visibility throughout the patient journey and across their organisations – but given the large variety of technology on offer, the way to achieve this vision is less clear. Partnering with an experienced and trustworthy solutions provider is key to meeting your goals.
One organisation that has taken the first steps to creating a connected journey is New South Wales Ambulance, who recently upgraded their vehicles as part of a long-term strategy to achieve the Connected Clinician vision. Find out what they did in this case study.
Written by Karl Mikan - National Sales Manager, Emergency Services