How Data and Technology Are Revolutionizing Patient Care

Introduction to the May 2015 JEMS supplement, On the Leading Edge: How data and technology are revolutionizing patient care

In some way, each of us grew up with Star Trek–the original TV series, The Next Generation or the current prequels. We marveled at the ability to “beam me up” using the transporter, or using the medical tricorder to diagnose the ill. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s imagination and vision raised everyone’s awareness of the value of technology–for EMS it raised expectations of how easy it should be to use and integrate into our everyday lives.

EMS, as with healthcare in general, has become busier and more complex. Rightfully we’ve focused on how we achieve better patient outcomes, and the amount of data we collect each day has increased logarithmically. The future is a place where technology comes together with complex protocols, clinical guidelines and destination decisions driven by definitive care expectations to help determine the patient’s final outcome.

In January 2014, JEMS published “Data Drives Care,” a supplement exploring how data collection and its use helps save lives. With this supplement, we’ll go a step further, exploring the future of technology from a device and data perspective. As technology advances, our expectations are for it to integrate into our service and clinical care delivery model, making life more manageable and more productive.

In these pages, some of our industry’s most respected leaders share their thoughts on a number of topics, including: patient monitoring; extending our care through social media; exploring medical records from a patient-centric perspective; the positive impact of health information exchange; creating a culture that will embrace technology; and methods to keep your operations centered in technology while keeping you alerted to issues that need attention now.

In our attempt to cover the important data and technology trends, we outgrew this supplement. Two other connected articles will appear this year in JEMS. In this month’s issue, Bentley J. Bobrow, MD; Daniel W. Spaite, MD and Bryan F. McNally, MD, provide an overview of the of the CARES CPR metrics and how they can be used to improve cardiac arrest outcomes. In November, Frank Gresh writes an article on IT implementations that will serve as a great tool for EMS to use in their software evaluation and purchase decisions.

There’s one common fiber that connects technology and all the topics we explore in this supplement: There will be a point in healthcare where devices, data and technology will seamlessly fuse with clinical care. It’s known as “clinical decision support” and it’s our ultimate destination”¦to boldly go where no man has gone before.

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