Saving Lives in the Fast Lane

Medusa Medical Technologies

Fifteen years ago, while working with paramedics, Chris McNamara had a vision. With a powerpoint presentation and some acquired funding, Chris would start Medusa Medical Technologies Inc, and its signature, award winning product, Siren ePCR Suite, was born.

At the time, in the world of emergency medical services, the paper trail was not only extensive, but it took quite an amount of valuable time to fill it all out correctly. Siren ePCR began to change all that. Company Vice President Craig Fraser discusses the company’s pioneering solution, and the advantages and challenges of technology in this young industry.

“Chris’ vision for a real-time patient data reporting solution that would replace a paper-based system and help medics improve the delivery of patient care came to life with Siren. Siren ePCR Suite is a collection of both web-based and client-server applications with Siren Field User, Siren Server, Siren Hospital Notification Board, and Siren Data Analytics.”

Electronic Patient Care Reporting, or ePCR, is more than just using a tablet to replace paper reports. Craig elaborates, “Anywhere in the developed world where an emergency care practitioner provides pre-hospital care, they need to record the information from that patient encounter – such as the patient’s health history, as well as any assessments and treatments they provide. While the care provider still collects a good portion of this information manually, in many cases it can also be electronically added to the ePCR through interfaces to a Computer Aided Dispatch system, a patient defibrillator / monitor, or through patient lookups to a centralized Electronic Health Record. Moving from paper to electronic opens up a vast amount of opportunity to collect more information and to share the same with those who need it faster.”

Craig says, “The way this critical information is entered and stored is extremely important too. Our solution, Siren, not only provides a clean, legible, and secure real-time flow of information, which allows receiving hospitals to prepare for patient arrival, it is also the source of clean, reliable information that many EMS services use to affect both operational and clinical change to their business. The way in which the data are captured in our system allows our customers to analyze how they are performing using facts versus anecdotal evidence. Knowing which station, vehicle, or crew is causing the Service to miss their SLAs is paramount to these organizations. For patients who had been treated and left at home and now require a revisit within a 24-hour period, this is critical information for both the EMS service and hospital.”

With recent studies performed on the importance of accurate data, the advantages of Medusa’s Siren ePCR are many and obvious. Records cannot be lost, completing a chart can be done in half the time, and more detail can be entered into the system due to its efficiency. Craig explains, “From the clinical perspective, if a doctor wants to analyse the information that has been input into the field user data collection device, they could look at how many times a paramedic has done an intubation or how much morphine was used or possibly abused, for example. The overall accuracy of the service from start to finish is top notch.

Medusa Medical is constantly enhancing and upgrading its application to stay current with technology, although that can often be challenging. “As with every technology company, one of our biggest challenges is the rapid changes in technology itself. To make an entire solution work, many pieces may need to be brought together in one system.”

Craig elaborates on the complications relating to technological change – such as the introduction of a new operating system (OS). “Once a new OS is released, there are many pieces to an ePCR system that need to be tested and possibly made to work on that new OS such as hardware, databases, drivers, and third party products to name a few. Upgrades and maintenance issues cost money and more importantly, if there are delays with the technology providers of any of these discrete components to support the new OS, they can negatively impact a client’s business goals, and you may find yourself with a very unhappy customer.” Medusa, therefore, constantly strives to maintain a good balance between the latest technologies and its customers’ needs when dealing with upgrades.

A lack of consistent standards for data exchange is a significant challenge for all ePCR manufacturers. “We have seen this with medical device certification for patient record software, and with data reporting to national bodies like National Emergency Medical Services Information System (NEMSIS) in the United States. It proves to be confusing when rules vary across the various jurisdictions.”

Craig stresses that it is important that regulations are the same across the board. The initial attempts at setting a standard have put some ePCR vendors out of business and cost the industry millions. Although a new dataset standard is being introduced, improvements are still required, as this still does not address the needs of various EMS services or government entities. “While development of the many NEMSIS-like state data collection standards will come with a significant cost, we have a very loyal customer base in the US and they know we will be there to address their state reporting needs.”

In the U.S., Canada, and EU, ePCR systems like Siren require a medical device assessment. While Siren is the same product regardless of where it is used, in Canada and Europe it is not considered a medical device but in the U.S. it is. The lack of enforcement from regulatory oversight can lead to huge variations in quality. “You can actually go to an app store and buy an app for your iPhone that provides diagnostic analysis and feedback that a person could use to treat someone else or themselves with. People assume that if the app says something, it must be right or how could it be sold,” says Craig. “It can get pretty scary as many of the people or companies developing these technologies do not have any background in medicine and some inaccurate diagnoses and liabilities could ensue.”

Early on, Medusa had ventured into the hardware side of the business to include it in the total solution for their customers. The company backed off that offering after experiencing a lack of support from the earlier manufacturers of ruggedized tablets. “Ruggedized device manufacturers now have really great devices and will stand behind their quality. While software remains our core business, we do provide our customers with hardware and services as many desire the one-stop shop for all of their ePCR needs and they believe in us and trust us to take care of them.”

Earlier this year, Alberta Health Services won the People’s Choice Award for their provincial rollout of the Siren ePCR. Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), a Medusa partner, won a Mobile Technology Project Award for its delivery of Siren ePCR to the NHS (Britain’s National Health Services) Emergency Services in the North, Midlands and East of England. This delivery was part of CSC’s contract to deliver an integrated healthcare solution for the NHS under its National Programme for IT (NPfIT).

In Canada, Medusa Medical has limited competition in its field. “Here in Canada, there are only three real providers of ePCR technology. The United States has quite a few more service offerings in this market.”

Medusa Medical has some upcoming software launches to be proud of. Craig shares, “While we are getting ready to launch Siren 4, we are also early days with Siren 5. Medusa is the recipient of an Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF) award to develop a brand new ePCR solution that will leverage the latest technologies and know-how to provide our customers with the next great leap in ePCR technology.” The company intends to continue to work closely with partners, customers and industry experts, ensuring that the new platform will meet their needs.

Craig is reflective when asked how Medusa and Siren stand out in this competitive industry. “We are unique. We solely focus on ePCR, and we have a dedicated and talented staff that has helped us to become a global company and leader. We now have customers spanning eight countries, five continents and four languages and thousands of Siren users charting millions of records every year.” Craig further stresses the importance of customers. “We feel our customers are our partners,” he says. “We share in the wins and battle the hard stuff side by side. When they need something out of the ordinary, they know we will be there to help them through it. When we need something out of the ordinary, they are there to return the favour.” Craig says, “At the end of the day, our relationships with our customers and our partners will always come first.”

September 25, 2017, 4:29 PM EDT

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