Introduction to Unified Critical Communications
The Benefits of Unified Critical Communications
Benefits of Unified Critical Communications for Emergency Medical Services
Ambulance and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) see their mission changing from the transportation of patients to hospitals for emergency medical care to one of delivering more advanced medical care directly to the patient. In a race against time, faster response and more appropriate medical assistance lead to better patient outcomes.
This concept, which one leader in ambulance services has called ‘the Connected Clinician’, relies on a radical revision of traditional ambulance communications. It would enable mission-critical voice, video, data, and EMS applications to be accessed through smart technologies using any device, any bearer, at any time. UCC is perfect for making the Connected Clinician a reality.
By combining, enhancing, and unifying the management of technologies currently used in ambulances – radio, mobile data terminals, tablets, smartphones – UCC allows paramedics, who are already working under stress, to focus on ambulance patients rather than communications equipment.
Since a single device can be enabled on multiple talk paths – which may be LMR, LTE, WiFi or satellite – UCC can reduce the number of different devices that must be present in an ambulance and can create a uniform user interface and standardized actions to operate them.
WiFi inside the ambulance can be used to connect the multiple devices that are retained, including the possibility of ambulance personnel bringing their own comms devices (even smart watches), as well as enabling simplified asset tracking and management.
LTE broadband access inside UCC supports faster GPS/AVL services, especially if tied into traffic condition and weather report updates, ensuring that ambulances get to the nearest medical center by the best route.
Broadband access also delivers cardiac monitoring and medical telemetry data in real time to the medical center while data applications hosted in the ambulance automatically access a patient’s electronic medical records (eMR), perform local processing, and present reports to paramedics who, via headsets and body cams, are in consultation with medical center specialists.
Ambulances therefore become a key component in a coordinated first response operation that can also include comms-connected motorcycles, medical aircraft, and helicopters. In the Connected Clinician vision, an ambulance can act as a communications hub hosting a multi-network terminal, a WiFi mobile hotspot, with a local processing capability that can support advanced mobile services such as stroke scanning and diagnostics.
To expand the range of advanced EMS, the Connected Clinician model also looks for future-proofed solutions that can keep pace with communications innovations such as 5G. If an ambulance and highly trained paramedics can perform medical interventions that are normally carried out in an emergency department, then some of the load of over-stretched hospital services can be assumed by ambulance services instead.
With its ability to add bearers as required, a UCC network can support both existing systems and future EMS possibilities that 5G opens up.