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Mobile devices may improve emergency cardiac and stroke care

por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | June 27, 2016
Emergency Medicine Health IT
Mobile devices aren’t just a convenient way to stay in touch with friends and family, they can also save lives. The American Heart Association published a new scientific statement in the journal Circulation revealing that digital strategies may improve emergency care for cardiac arrests, heart attacks and strokes.

“When seconds count, early recognition of the symptoms of cardiac arrest, heart attack or stroke and quick action can make a huge difference in whether someone lives or dies or has serious complications afterwards,” Dr. Raina Merchant, co-author and director of the Social Media Lab at the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, said in a statement. “Digital platforms can support existing efforts to educate people about what to do in an emergency.”

The authors reviewed studies to determine the effectiveness of these digital strategies at improving cardiac and stroke care. A study conducted in Japan found that when emergency department personnel sent photos of 12-lead ECGs to interventional cardiologists with their smartphones, it saved 1.5 minutes compared to faxing.

A Swedish study used a mobile phone application to alert volunteers within 500 meters of a cardiac arrest victim. It found that 62 percent of the volunteers with the app started to perform CPR, but only 48 percent of bystanders who didn’t have the app started CPR.

Smartphone apps that allow clinicians to view brain images from stroke patients and FaceTime videoconferencing apps that enable neurologists to evaluate stroke patients remotely may also be useful.

Although no research has revealed anything negative about using these tools for emergency cardiac and stroke care, the authors caution that more rigorous evaluations need to be conducted. Inaccurate information may accidently be provided, which could lead to medical errors, higher costs and the violating HIPAA laws.

The authors also have unanswered questions that they hope will be explored in future studies. A few of those include whether mobile devices can be converted into defibrillators, whether video sharing platforms can help real-time bystander CPR and AED training, and whether emergency personnel can use cell phones to determine the best hospital.

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