StatPhone: When minutes count
Feb 10, 2013 (The Arizona Daily Sun - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Ryan Heck has been a flight nurse in Flagstaff for more than 17 years, which means he's seen a lot of emergencies.
He's been struck, too, by how often the helicopter passes over dozens of hospitals that could care for his patients, and on to points farther away, often in Phoenix.
"Patients often fly farther from their homes when closer care is available," Heck said, and that's inconvenient and expensive for patients and relatives.
Heck, working with Flagstaff's Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, took the first steps two years ago to develop a sort of online matchmaking program for patients needing emergency treatment. His business is called StatPhone.
A health care worker gives a secure online service some quick, basic information about what's wrong, along with patient data (gender, weight, medications, treatment so far). StatPhone then scans for the closest hospital that can treat the patient and has an empty bed.
Emails and cell phone messages are then transmitted to the health care workers staffing the targeted hospital asking if their facility has room. Once the hospital agrees to accept the patients, the messages carry medical information and expected time of arrival.
The idea is to replace a system where one person at a hospital works a phone directory to find somewhere to send a patient in an emergency -- the way patients were transferred in some 53,676 emergency cases in Arizona last year.
"Wouldn't you want a system that rapidly calls all hospitals that can care for you rather than calling one hospital at a time " said co-founder Troy Marino.
Marino said StatPhone is beneficial in three ways: for hospitals wanting to market what they can do to smaller hospitals with fewer services; for patients when seconds count; and for the bottom line.
The incentives for small clinics and rural hospitals to move patients to larger facilities amid emergencies are medical and financial.
In the case of a stroke victim, for example, the chances of breaking up a blood clot decrease 2.5 percent for every minute of delay in treatment. Heart attack patients are twice as likely to die in cases where transferring them takes more than 30 minutes.
Once a small hospital decides it needs to transfer a patient to a different facility for emergency treatment, the clock quickly runs out on that small hospital's ability to bill for that patient, Heck said.
So getting a patient transferred quickly in emergencies makes sense for the patient, and is financially logical for the referring hospital or clinic.
Further, the service starts a clock on when a hospital accepts a patient, when they arrive, and more, so facilities can query their data and troubleshoot obstacles slowing down treatment.
Heck and Marino have recently signed an agreement with Summit Healthcare in Show Low for StatPhone.
They hope to expand the service to non-emergency cases in the future, such as patient transfers between hospitals, to nursing homes, and to other facilities, perhaps along with patients' electronic medical records.
Cyndy Cole can be reached at email@example.com or at 913-8607.
2225 N Gemini #19
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
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